Who is Eligible to Get an R-1 Visa (Religious Worker Visa)?

As described by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an R-1 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa that is reserved for qualified religious workers. To obtain a religious worker visa, there are very strict eligibility requirements that an applicant must meet. If you are applying for an R-1 visa in Los Angeles and you have any specific questions about your eligibility or the application process in general, contact an experienced immigration attorney for help.  

R-1 Visa: An Overview of the Eligibility Requirements

R-1 visas are reserved for individuals (workers) who have devoted their lives to the practice of their faith. As such, secular members of a religious group or religious organization are not eligible to receive this type of visa. For instance, a foreign national who performs maintenance work at a church could not obtain an R-1 visa—at least not on those grounds alone, as they must be in a non-secular role. More specifically, applicants for an R-1 religious employee visa must satisfy the following basic requirements: 

  • The petitioner (the employer) must be a legitimate not-for-profit religious organization that is properly registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS);  
  • The applicant must provide evidence that they were a member of their current religious denomination for at least the past two years; and
  • The applicant must serve in a qualified position, either as a minister or in another approved religious vocation.

What is an R-2 Visa?

Many religious workers have immediate family members, such as a spouse or a child. An R-2 visa offers an immigration option for these close relatives. Through an R-2 visa, an immigrant who holds an R-1 visa can bring their spouse and their unmarried children who are under the age of 21 into the United States. If you are applying for an R-1 visa in Southern California, our immigration attorney in Los Angeless can help your immediate family members obtain an R-2 visa. 

R-1 Visas and Green Cards

Similar to other employment visas, an R-1 religious workers’ visa is a nonimmigrant visa—meaning it does not provide an automatic path to permanent status in the United States. That being said, in certain circumstances, holding an R-1 visa may eventually allow a person to obtain a green card. After a sufficient amount of time has gone by, an R-1 visa holder may be eligible to file an I-485 Adjustment of Status application. When done properly, this can lead to a green card and, eventually, even American citizenship. 

Get Help From Our Los Angeles, CA R-1 Visa Lawyer Today

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, or California immigration attorneys have extensive experience handling R-1 visas. We also represent immigrants who are seeking R-2 visas. To get more information about what we can do for you, please call us now for a fully private consultation. From our office in Los Angeles, we represent religious workers throughout Southern California, including in San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Ventura County. 

Josh Goldstein
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