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R-1 Temporary Work Visa

Religious workers who wish to enter the United States temporarily can apply for a R1 Visa. This nonimmigrant visa is open to individuals who are members of a religious domination and have a valid job offer from a religious organization in operating the US.

To be eligible, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Intend to work solely as a religious worker in the United States
  • Have been a member of the religious organization for at least two years before applying for a R1 visa
  • Have received an offer from a non-profit religious organization located in the U.S

Applicants must qualify as a religious worker for the purposes of the R1 visa application.  US Immigration laws regard it as an individual who is coming to the United States to work in a religious capacity for a religious organization.

An R-1 visa is initially valid for 3 years, but it can be extended for 2 more years. After 5 years, you must reside outside the U.S. for at least 1 year before applying for a new permit.

If you hold R-1 status, your spouse and your unmarried children under the age of 21 can join you in the U.S as R-2 dependants.

EB-4 Visa (Special Immigrant Visa)

The EB-4 visa is an employment-based immigrant visa (aka, green card) intended for special immigrants.  Under this visa, recipients can enjoy all the benefits and privileges of permanent resident status including the freedom to travel, live, work and study in the United States.  In addition, after 5 years of living in the U.S. as a green card holder, they will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

In addition, some visa applicants are eligible to sponsor their dependent family members (spouse and children) to come to the United States with them.



Organization Location: Provide evidence that your religious organization qualifies as a nonprofit religious organization. (Note: You may submit a directory if the petitioner has a group exemption approval.) This means that the address on the 501(c)(3) certificate must be the same as the current address of the organization.

Religious Organization: What do you consider your religious denomination? What is your form of ecclesiastical government? What is your creed or statement of faith? What is your form of worship? What is your formal or informal code of doctrine and discipline? Do you have religious services and, if so, when? Where are your places of religious worship?

Petitioner Location: Submit documentary evidence to prove religious activity at your location, including lease agreements, rental agreements, and/or mortgage payments; a copy of the city or county fire department occupancy permit for the petitioner’s location; copies of utility bills and telephone bills; submit color photographs of the location, both inside and outside the building.


Number of Employees: Number of volunteer and paid ministers and staff serving the petitioner’s church.

Ability to pay: Provide evidence of the petitioner’s ability to pay the beneficiary’s wage. The petitioner must demonstrate this ability at the time of the filing is established and continuing until the beneficiary obtains lawful permanent residence. Evidence of this ability shall be either in the form of copies of annual reports, signed copies of federal tax returns, or audited financial statements. If the petitioner’s company has one hundred (100) or more workers the petitioner may instead provide a statement from a financial officer of the organization that establishes the prospective employer’s ability to pay the proffered wage.


Work History: Provide documentary evidence of the beneficiary’s work history for at least two years, fulltime. Provide a breakdown of duties performed in the religious occupation for an average week.

Beneficiary’s Income: Provide the last two years tax returns, and Forms 1099R. If you have ancillary income, we need proof of the source of that income.

Beneficiary’s Services: Submit documentary evidence to show that the beneficiary’s services are needed. Please ensure that the evidence addresses the following factors:

  • Number of volunteer and paid ministers and staff serving the petitioner’s church
  • Size of the congregation.
  • Specific duties which the beneficiary will be undertaking vs. specific duties of other staff – Has the church always had the services of a minister or staff to perform the duties that the beneficiary will be undertaking?
  • If not, what circumstances created a need for the beneficiary’s services?

Ordination: Will the beneficiary be working in a vocational capacity or a ministerial capacity. Will the beneficiary in a leadership capacity in the petitioner’s organization? Please clarify whether the beneficiary has authorization to conduct religious worship and perform other services usually performed by members of the clergy, in addition to religious worship and services performed by all [EXAMPLE: monks]. If so, submit evidence to show that the beneficiary has been ordained and/or given such authorization. Also provide a list of the requirements for ordination/authorization.

Ordination Certificate: Provide documentary evidence of the requirements required for ordination.

If you would like further information or to discuss a potential case, please call our office at 404.816.8611 to set an appointment with one of our experienced immigration attorneys, or you schedule your consultation online here.