Temporary Non-Immigrant Religious Workers (R-1)

Temporary Non-Immigrant Religious Workers (R-1)

An R-1 is a foreign national who is going to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organisation in the United States (or an organisation which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.

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

A prospective or existing U.S. employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of an R-1 worker. An R-1 visa cannot be issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad without prior USCIS approval of Form I-129.

Both the applicant (religious worker) and the petitioning organisation must satisfy certain requirements.


The successful applicant may stay in the US for up to 30 months, with possible extension.

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  • Requirements

    For the applicant.

    The applicant must submit documents that show:

    • proof of membership of the religious organisation
    • certificate of ordination or similar (for ministers) or other qualification or other
    • evidence of meeting the requirements for the role

    Requirements (for the organisation)

    The organisation must submit documents that show:

    • proof of tax-exempt status
    • proof of compensation for the worker (salary or other)evidence of an established programme
    • evidence that the organisation’s religious denomination maintains missionary programnes both in the United States and abroad
    • evidence of the religious worker’s acceptance into the missionary programme
    • evidence of the duties and responsibilities associated with this traditionally uncompensated missionary work

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