Immigration: Religious (R-1) Visa

The R-1 is a temporary non-immigrant visa reserved for individuals who wish to enter the United States to 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  religious occupations that are defined as those whose duties must:

  • be related to a traditional religious function
  • be 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. Examples 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 least 20 hours of work per week.


To qualify for the R-1 visa, the foreign national must demonstrate that they have been a member of a religious denomination for at least two years immediately prior to applying for an R-1 visa. The religious denomination abroad must have bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States or a non-profit religious organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.

Period of Stay

An initial stay of 30 months may be granted to an R-1 recipient by the USCIS. The beneficiary may apply for an extension of another 30 months. However, the maximum stay on an R-1 visa cannot exceed 5 years. An R-1 recipient is eligible for a new five year period of stay after having resided outside the United States for at least one year.

Family of R-1 Visa Holders

The spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 of an R-2 visa 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 have 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 you apply for the R-1/R-2 visa.

Law Offices of Trupti N Patel & Associates
1 Boston Place #2600
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 367-6750

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