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 Los Angeles immigration attorneys 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 Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, 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 at (213) 262-2000 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.