What is an R-1 Visa?

The R-1 visa is a nonimmigrant United States visa. It is designed to help eligible religious workers to work within the United States for a religious organization. The religious organization must be registered as a nonprofit in the US, linked to a US religious denomination or a religious group with a tax exemption. The visa is specifically meant for individuals that work directly in religious work, like preaching. People working within the administrative side of a religious organization cannot apply for an R-1 visa. There is no cap on how many people can obtain an R-1 visa.

If granted an R-1 visa, the recipient may open bank accounts, apply for a driver's license and study at US institutions. You may also travel outside of the US and this time will not be counted as part of your total visa duration. Additionally, you are able to work in another country without it affecting your R-1 visa.

What are the R-1 Visa Requirements?

To be eligible for this visa you must:

  • Have been a member of the religious organization for at least the past two years
  • The applicant must be a minister or the religious equivalent
  • The applicant must work at least 20 hours a week
  • The applicant may not work for in any other positions while in the US

What counts as a Religion?

For this visa, a religion must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a community who believe and are governed by an ecclesiastical government
  • Must worship similarly
  • Shared rituals, services and ceremonies
  • Shared doctrine and code of conduct
  • Shared place of worship

How can I apply for the R-1 Visa?

This visa application requires that you already have employment with a religious organization in the US. The employer must begin the process by petitioning the USCIS on behalf of the applicant. Once the petition has been processed, the applicant will need to apply. A visa interview will be scheduled following the successful documentation submittal.

What Happens if I am granted an R-1 Visa?

The R-1 visa is valid for 30 months and at the end of that time, you may apply for an extension for another 30 months. The maximum amount of time granted is 60 months, after which you will need to return home. However, you may decide to apply for a Green Card or another visa which will allow you to stay in the US longer.

You may bring your spouse or children with you, however, you will need to apply for an R-2 visa. This application can be completed at the same time as your R-1. You will need to provide a valid marriage certificate and birth certificates for any children. The R-2 visa allows your dependents to stay in the US for the duration of the R-1 visa. Dependents on the R-2 visa may engage in full or part time study but are unable to work.

Do You Want to Apply for an R-1 Visa? We Can Help!

If so, Contact VisaPlace today. All our cases are handled by competent and experienced immigration professionals who are affiliated with VisaPlace. These professionals consist of lawyers, licensed paralegals, and consultants who work for Niren and Associate award-winning immigration firm that adheres to the highest standards of client service.

Ready for the next step? Book your 1 on 1 consultation now or call us at 1-866-449-5904.

Have a Question related to your Immigration Needs? Click here to fill out the FREE Immigration Assessment form below and get a response within 24 hours to see if you're eligible. The assessment form should take approximately 5-7 minutes to complete. We will get back to you within one business day to let you know if we are able to help.

Customer Reviews

I could not have asked for more! The VisaPlace team are extremely professional, they know their stuff. They gave me great information, prepared my work visa application and then prepared me for the submission process. I was successful. Got my visa. 5 stars! I would give them 6 if I could.

Tim Willisin the last week

This is not an exaggeration!!! I was truly impressed with the way VisaPlace consultants handled my case. The consultants- Emily, Lauren, Takunda and Lisa, took their time to explain to me in great deal how they were going to approach my case and how they would handle setbacks, if any. Their professionalism and knowledge of the law were superb. The minor setback that came up was quickly addressed by the team. The team constantly kept me updated on the progress/status of my application; they quickly responded to my questions/concerns. They had predicated my permanent residency to be processed within 6 -12, and Indeed it was processed and completed within 6 months. Based on my personal experience, Emily and Lauren's team are the best! They deserve 5 stars!!!!!!!!!!!

George Jakan'gayoa week ago

VisaPlace helped me sponsor my husband to become a Permanent Resident of Canada. They were extremely professional. Every step along the way was explained fully and expertly taken care of. The staff responded immediately to any questions and always handled our concerns fully, taking as much time as we needed to understand where we were at in the immigration process and what to expect next. I would recommend VisaPlace with no hesitation at all. I'm sure if we had tried to navigate the immigration process ourselves, it would have been much harder.

Shirley Corriveau2 weeks ago

As seen on


  • The Canadian Bar Association
  • The American Bar Association