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R-1 Religious Workers Visa

R-1 Immigration Visa Explained

The R-1 visa allows aliens in certain religious occupations to enter the United States temporarily to perform the duties of a religious worker with a bona fide non-profit religious organization. The alien may work in a professional capacity, in a specific religious occupation, or in a religious vocation provided that the alien was a member of the particular religious denomination for the two years preceding the application for an R-1 visa.


The R visa holder is permitted to work in the United States in a religious occupation for a temporary period.

The R visa is granted initially for a period of three years. Upon expiration of the initial visa, an extension can be obtained for another two years for a total not to exceed five years.

The R-1 visa holder can earn any amount of money as a salary without limitations imposed by labor conditions applications.

Spouses of R-1 visa holders and children under 21 years of age may be entitled to remain in the United States for the duration of the R-1 visa holder's authorized stay. They are issued R-2 visas.

Change of Employers
R-1 visa holders may change employers without leaving the United States provided the new position qualifies the alien for R-1 status and a new nonfrivolous petition is filed.

Unless the R-1 visa holder has the visa stamped in their passport, they may not leave and reenter the United States without first obtaining the visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy abroad.


Professional Capacity
Occupations for which a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required.

Religious Occupation
An activity pertaining to a religious function such as:

  • Liturgical worker
  • Religious instructor
  • Religious counselor
  • Cantor
  • Catechist
  • Worker in a religious hospital
  • Missionary
  • Religious translator
  • Religious broadcaster

Religious Vocation
A calling to religious life evidenced by a committed practice in the denomination, such as taking vows, including:

  • Priests
  • Nuns
  • Monks
  • Ministers


Dependents Cannot Work
Accompanying spouses and children of R-1 visa holders are not permitted to work while in the U.S. on R-2 status.

If you have questions about R-1 visas for religious workers, our immigration attorneys at Maney | Gordon | Zeller, P.A.​ are prepared to help. Contact us today for a personalized consultation!

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