An R-1 visa is available to foreign nationals coming to the U.S. temporarily to be employed at least part time (an average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the U.S. (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the U.S.) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation. In order to qualify for an R-1 visa, the individual must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the U.S. for at least 2 years immediately prior to filing an R-1 petition.
Please see the USCIS government website to see the supporting documents that must be supplied by both the religious worker seeking an R-1 visa and the qualifying religious organization.
USCIS may grant R-1 status for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months, and additional extensions may be granted for up to another 30 months each. However, the religious worker’s total period of stay in the United States in R-1 classification cannot exceed 5 years (60 months).
An R-1 religious worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible to receive an R-2 visa. Unfortunately, an R-2 dependent is not authorized to work in the U.S. based on the R-2 visa classification.