An R-1 is an alien who is coming to the United States to be temporarily employed as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation at least part-time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by:
● A non-profit religious organization in the United States;
● A religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption; or
● A non-profit religious organization that is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.
This visa program is intended for religious workers whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as distinguished from secular members of the religion.
To qualify, the alien must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before the filing of the petition.
R-1 visas are granted up to 30 months, though they can be extended once for a total validity of 5 years. R-1 visa holders are allowed to work within the United States but may not change organizations. They must continue working with the original organization through which they applied for the visa. They may, however, study during their time in the United States. If the visa holder wishes to bring their spouse or children, they may do so by applying for R-2 visas, but their spouses and children may not work while within the United States.