Immigration: Religious (R-1) Visa

The non-immigration R-1 visa is reserved for the persons who wish to enter the United States to be temporarily work in a religious occupation or vocation such as a minister. The R-1 recipient’s employer must be a non-profit religious organization located in the United States or a religious organization that is covered by tax exemption requirements or a non-profit religious organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States. The R-1 visa is available for a religious occupations that are defined as those whose duties must:

  • related to a traditional religious function
  • recognized by the denomination
  • clearly show and involve carrying out the religious creed and beliefs of the denomination.

The term “Religious occupations”  does not include primarily administrative or support positions such as janitors, maintenance workers, clerical employees, fund-raisers or similar positions solely involved in raising funds. Some of the qualifying occupations include ministers, clergy, nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters, liturgical workers, religious instructors or counselors, cantors (choir leaders), catechists, workers in religious hospitals or religious health care facilities whose job duties involve furthering the religion’s creed and beliefs, missionaries, religious translators, and religious broadcasters. The occupation must require at lease 20 hours of work.


To qualify for the R-1 visa, the foreign national must show that they have been a member of a bona fide religious denomination (having a non-profit religious organization status in the United States) for at least two years immediately before applying for an R-1 visa. If the beneficiary is apply for a new R-1 visa (a new five-year maximum stay), they must have resided outside the United States for at least one year.

Period of Stay

An initial stay of 30 months may be granted to the R-1 recipient by the USCIS. This can be extended for another 30 months but cannot exceed 5 years.

Family of R-1 Visa Holders

The spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 of an R-2 recipient may qualify for a R-2 visa.  An R-2 visa holder is not authorized to work in the United States.

How can we help….

The Law Offices of Trupti N Patel & Associates – Immigration Attorney Boston – has been successful in helping individuals as well as religious organizations apply for R-1/R-2 visas. Please call our offices at (617) 367-6750 to see how we can help your questions regarding the R-1 visa.
If you plan on attending a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys, in person, please see the Directions to our Office
Law Offices of Trupti N Patel & Associates
One Boston Place, 201 Washington St #2600, Boston, MA 02108
(617) 367-6750