Assisting Religious Organizations Sponsoring Qualified Religious Workers

R-1 Religious Worker Visas

U.S. R-1 Religious Worker Visa Attorneys - Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham, P.C.

Section 101(a)(15)(R) of the Immigration and Nationality Act establishes the requirements for classification as a non-immigrant religious worker. INA Section 101(a)(15(R) is an R-1 nonimmigrant visa in which the foreign national is allowed to enter the U.S. for a maximum of 5 years. This is different from an employment-based immigrant visa under 4th preference in which the foreign national applies for an immigrant visa to permanently reside in the U.S. The Houston R-1 Religious Worker Visa Attorneys and the Houston Texas and U.S. R-1 Nonimmigrant Visa Lawyers have assisted various religious organizations to sponsor foreign priests, monks, and other religious workers to obtain R-1 Visa status. Please contact the Houston R-1 Visa Attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham. for more information.

Under the Act, to qualify as an R-1 religious worker, the sponsoring organization must be a non-profit organization designated by the State and the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, the foreign national must come to the U.S. and work under a “religious vocation” or “occupation.” A religious vocation or occupation denotes that the person is devoting his or her life to the services of that denomination. Although a lay person can be sponsored under R-1 Religious Worker Visas, the person will have to demonstrate that such work would relate to the spiritual aspect of the religion. In addition, the person must have been a member of the denomination for at least 2 years prior to filing applications. R-1 workers can come to the U.S. on an initial 3-year period and can renew once for another 2 year period, totaling 5 years. After the initial 5 years period, the person must either reside in the U.S. permanently under an EB-4 immigrant petition or remain outside the U.S. for at least 1 year prior to reentry.

Finally, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also accompany the qualifying R-1 religious worker as an R-2. R-2 dependants are not allowed to obtain employment authorizations.

Who May Qualify As a Religious Worker?

  • A Minister, which can be defined as a decon, monk, priest, or a nun is qualified under an R-1 religious worker visa.

  • A person that is working under a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation. Professional capacity is defined under INA Section 101(a)(32) or has a bachelor degree or a foreign equivalent. A religious occupation is one that is related to the traditional religious functions, such as a cantor, translators, and religious broadcasters.

Previously, premium processing was available. Currently, premium processing has been suspended because of a number of fraudulent applications. It is the usual practice of USCIS to require all documents to show that the sponsoring organization is a non-profit organization. IN addition, it is a common practice in which investigating officer regularly visit the organization’s office, church, synagogue, temple, or mosque during the application process, as well as after the R-1 application has been approved. If the R-1 employee change employer, a new R-1 application must be filed by such employer. Lastly, the R-1 Application may be filed with the USCIS if the person is presently here in the U.S. An application to the U.S. Consular Office abroad is all that is required to file the R-1 Visa application for employee abroad. No application is necessary to file with the USCIS if the applicant is abroad.

The experienced Houston R-1 Religious Worker Visa Attorneys and the Sugar Land R-1 Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham. have previously assisted a number of religious groups in sponsoring religious workers. Please contact our Houston R-1 Immigration Attorneys for more information.


Immigration Law is a vast area of law and requires an immigration attorney with years of experience to understand the intricacies of the Immigration & Nationality Law. In addition, the USCIS and U.S. Consular Offices are keen to scrutinize the Applicants' qualifications under R-1 Visas, especially the "religious occcupation and vocation" requirements. Please contact the Houston R-1 Religious Worker Attorneys and the Houston R-1 Nonimmigrant Visa Lawyers to ensure proper documentations to show that you have met all requirements stated above. Please contact the Houston Immigration R-1 Visa Attorneys and the U.S. Texas R-1 Visa Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham. today at 713-517-6645 or complete our Contact Form.

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