Petition for Religious Visa R1

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Atlanta Immigration Attorney Jameel Manji

Author: Jameel Manji, Founder, Manji Law, P.C.

Mr. Manji founded Manji Law in 2016 to follow his passion of helping people navigate the complicated immigration system. Mr. Manji graduated from Georgia State University College of Law and received Master of Taxation from the Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Published on: April 19, 2023.

Manji Law is your complete immigration solution. If you are seeking assistance with the Atlanta Immigration Court, please give us a call. Manji Law can provide valuable insight, assistance, and a guiding hand to help you achieve your goals.

R1 Visa for Nonimmigrant Religious Workers


An R1 visa is a religious visa that allows individuals to temporarily enter the United States to work in a religious vocation. To petition for an R-1 religious visa, the sponsoring/ petitioning religious organization must file a petition for a nonimmigrant worker with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (also known as the USCIS) on behalf of the foreign religious worker coming to the US.

The R1 visa process can sometimes be confusing to those unfamiliar with it. In such cases, it may be beneficial to work with an immigration attorney in Atlanta to ensure all forms are correctly completed and your rights are protected.


Religious Workers Who May Apply for R1 Visa


To qualify for an R-1 visa, an individual should be coming to the United States to perform a religious occupation, such as where they:

  • Participate in a traditional religious function. Example: where Ministers conduct religious worship.

  • Work as a religious instructor at an accredited theological institution.

  • Work in religious hospitals.

  • Other religious workers, such as salaried Buddhist monks.

Eligibility Criteria for R1 Visa


To qualify for the R-1 visa, a religious worker must meet the following requirements:

Have a Job Sponsored by a US Religious Organization

The applicant must have a job offer from a tax-exempt United States religious organization under Internal Revenue Service Code section 501(c)(3).

Be Employed in a Qualifying Religious Occupation

The applicant must be coming into the United States to work at least 20 hours per week either in or affiliated with a US non-profit religious organization as a minister, priest, rabbi, nun, or other religious position, such as a religious instructor or counselor.

Hold a Membership in a Religious Organization

Foreign nationals must be a member of a non-profit religious organization for at least two years immediately preceding their R1 visa application. The non-profit religious organization should be affiliated with a religious denomination in the U.S. and sponsor their visa application.

Intend to Work Temporarily in the U.S.

Religious workers must be nonimmigrants coming to work temporarily in the United States for a tax-exempt religious organization and return to their home country after their work is completed.

Failure to enter the US with a valid visa may result in the applicant being detained in a detention center such as the Stewart Detention Center.

R-1 Visa Application Process


The application process for an R-1 visa consists of three parts:

Filing the petition

A US sponsoring organization or employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of the noncitizen applicant for the work position in the U.S.

Providing Supporting Documentation

The petition is required to be accompanied by the required filing fee and supporting documentation from the petitioning employer or organization, including but not limited to the following:

  • Proof of the organization’s current tax-exempt status, such as a letter from the IRS confirming coverage or the parent organization showing that the organization is a member of the group using the organization’s tax-exempt status.

  • In case an organization is affiliated with a religious denomination, the following documents should accompany your petition:
    a) A letter from the IRS demonstrating that the religious organization is tax-exempt.
    b) Documentation establishing the religious nature and purpose of the organization.
    c) A religious denomination certification.

  • Proof of intended compensation of the religious worker or verifiable evidence of self-support on the part of the worker as a part of a well-defined missionary program.

  • Evidence that the religious worker is qualified to perform the duties of the offered position.

Confirmation and Decision From the USCIS

Once the USCIS receives your Form I-129, you may receive a confirmation receipt confirming your petition.

In some cases, depending on your age group, the USCIS may request the applicant to visit the US Embassy or Consulate for an interview in their home country.

Once the USCIS interview is complete, the applicant and petitioner will receive a notice of their decision.

An Immigration Attorney Can Help


Georgia immigration attorney in Atlanta can guide and assist you in completing the forms throughout the R-1 visa application process. They can help you meet different requirements, including:

  • Determine if you meet eligibility criteria.

  • Prepare the petition or application form.

  • Communicate with the USCIS.

  • Keep the visa application moving through the process.

  • File appeals (if necessary).

Additionally, if you have received a removal order, consider speaking to an experienced Atlanta deportation lawyer.


Contact Manji Law, P.C. Today!


Immigration law and the US Immigration system can be overwhelming. A Georgia immigration lawyer can explain and help you navigate the R-1 visa application process to help ensure that all requirements are met.

The caring and reliable immigration lawyers at Manji Law, P.C. are experienced. We carefully listen and understand your needs to explain and complete the legal forms necessary for a religious visa.

We can address any questions you may have and help provide excellent legal representation. Book an appointment online to schedule a consultation today! 

Frequently Asked Questions


How Long Does It Take to Petition for an R1 Visa?

The processing time for an R-1 visa petition can vary significantly depending on many factors, including the caseload of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (also known as the USCIS) and the consulate or embassy where the applicant will be interviewed for the visa.

Generally, the processing time for an R-1 visa petition can take several weeks to even months. The USCIS provides estimated processing times on its website, giving applicants an idea of how long the process may take. The estimated processing time for a Form I-129 petition is approximately five to eight months. However, as noted above, it can vary from one case to another.

For How Long Is the R1 Visa Valid?

The validity of an R-1 visa can vary depending on the applicant’s circumstances. However, an R-1 visa is valid for an initial period of up to 30 months (two and a half years). After the initial period expires, the R-1 visa may be extended for an additional 30 months for a maximum stay of five years in the United States.