US Visa R1 for Religious Preachers and Prayer Leaders

US Visa R1 for Religious Preachers and Prayer LeadersThe temporary religious worker visa or R-1 is offered to the foreign nationals who wish to come to the US to work in some non-profit religious organization or an organization that is affiliated with some religious denomination of America. The visa holder is liable to work at least part time which means 20 hours per week.

In order to qualify for this visa, a candidate must be a follower of the same religious doctrine that his/her sponsoring organization in the US practices at least two years before the visa petition is filed. The purpose of arrival to American must be to serve in purely religious capacity. The application must be employed by some nonprofit religious organization of the US or the organization that is affiliated with the religious denomination. He/she should be ready to work at least part time with the employer organization.

Before you apply for the R-1 visa, a US employer will have to fill the Form I-129, Petition For Nonimmigrant Worker, and submit with the USCIS.

Once the petition of your employer is approved, you need to proceed to apply for your visa. The first step is to fill up the Form DS-160 and submit an online visa application. You must take print of the online application in order to show it at the time of interview. With the application, you will also have to upload a photo of you.

After the successful submission of your application, you will be called for interview in the US consulate. If you are 13 and younger, you might be exempted from interview. The interview will be conducted if you are 14 to 79. The persons above 80 are also exempted from the assessment.

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You can be required to pay the visa processing fee $190 either before interview or when your visa is approved. This fee is established by the US department of state.

You need to arrange the following documentation before you appear for the interview:

  • A passport that must be valid to travel to the US.
  • A photo of you.
  • The Receipt number of the approved petition filed by your employer with the USCIS.

There are some supporting documents that both the petitioner and the beneficiary need to submit.

Supporting Documents For Employer:

  • The religious organization needs to provide the IRS 501(c)(3) to prove that it is exempted from tax.
  • If the organization is text-exempt under a group, it needs to provide the group ruling.
  • If the organization is affiliated with some religious denomination, it is required to submit the IRS, nature of work, literature and the certification of that denomination.
  • The organization also needs to describe how it will compensate the religious worker against his/her services. In this regard, the organization will also have to show the record of previous salaries offered to the same positions and its annual budgets showing money reserved for salaries etc.

Supporting Documents For Religious Worker:

  • Evidence that the religious worker is a member of the religious denomination which is applying petition on his/her behalf.
  • If he religious worker had been in the US on the same visa, he/she will have to provide the details like where he/she served, what was the job description and what remunerations he/she got against the services.
  • If the religious worker is going to work as minister, he/she needs to submit a certificate of ordination.
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The initial visa validity period that the USCIS can offer is up to 30 months. An extension of another 30 months can also be granted. However, the total period of stay under the R-1 visa cannot exceed five years.

The spouse and unmarried children under 21 of the visa holder can also apply to accompany their family member under the R-2 classification which only allows temporary stay and no employment. However, the dependents can pursue their studies in any academic institute of the US.

So, the R-1 visa offers a good opportunity to those, especially belonging to Christianity, to move to America and work in religious capacity as a minister or preacher or prayer leader or meditation leader etc. This is the time for you to get spiritual solace on the US soil.


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