R-1 Visa: Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Worker

An R-1 is a foreign national who comes to the United States temporarily to be employed by a non-profit religious organization in the country, or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation. The religious worker should be employed at least part time for an average of at least 20 hours per week.


To qualify, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of the petition.

Petition Process

The U.S. employer needs to submit Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) on behalf of the R-1 worker with the supporting documents from the religious organization and the religious worker.

The supporting documents must be shown that the religious worker is a member of a religious denomination of a bona fide nonprofit religious organization, and has been for at least 2 years prior to filing Form I-129.

If the religious worker will be working as a minister, the following documents need to be provided:

  • Copy of the certificate of ordination or similar documents
  • Proof of qualification to be a minister (i.e. completed theological education, transcripts, curriculum, theological institution’s accreditation)

The R-1 visa can be issued at a U.S. embassy or a U.S. consulate after Form I-129 is approved by USCIS. The initial period of admission can be up to 30 months.

Family of R-1 Visa Holders

The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of the R-1visa holders may be eligible for an R-2 classification. The R-2 visa holders are not authorized to work but may study.

For more information about R-1 visa, you may check U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ web page: