What is an R-1 Religious Worker?

A person entering the US temporarily to be employed as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week).

Who may employ me as a religious worker?
  • 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 which is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.

Does my role qualify as a “religious occupation”?

A role will only qualify as a “religious occupation” for immigration purposes if:

  • Duties primarily relate to a traditional religious function;
  • It is recognized as a religious occupation within the denomination; and
  • Is primarily related to, and clearly involves, inculcating or carrying out the religious creed and beliefs of the denomination.

Does my administrative role qualify me for R-1?

No. If the role is primarily administrative or a support position (e.g. janitor, maintenance worker, clerical employee, or fund-raisers), you will not be eligible. However, if such support activities are ancillary to your main functions and make up a small percentage of your work, you may still qualify.

Can I enter on R-1 to study?

No – you may not enter for the purpose of study but may pursue study or training incidental to R-1 status.
How long do I need to have been a member of the religion?
You must have been a member of the relevant religion for at least two years immediately before the filing of the petition.

Upon being granted an R-1 visa for one employer, may I work for another employer?

You may, but not on the same R-1 visa. Your new employer would first need to file a successful, fresh petition in whichever visa category is suitable for the type of work.

Can I bring my family?

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 years may be afforded R-2 status. An R-2 dependent is not authorized to accept employment.