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R Visa/Status – Religious Worker

There is an unfortunate tendency for many people to neglect the vital role of religious workers within the communities where they work and live, instead focusing solely on more overtly monetized entities. Religious workers are involved in the most intimate times of many people’s lives and take an active lead in offering services and assistance to persons in need. There are times when it becomes necessary for a religious organization or church to bring a clergy member or other religious worker to the United States, and in these instances, obtaining R Visa/Status is crucial.

If you are preparing to seek admission for a needed religious worker, then we can help you throughout the entirety of the complicated immigration process. Contact an Austin immigration lawyer of the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC at 512-323-2333 to speak with a compassionate and experienced attorney about your case today.

Basic Requirements:

R Visa/Status is available to ministers and others in religious occupations or vocations. To qualify as a Minister, the individual must be authorized by a recognized denomination to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by members of the clergy. A lay preacher does not qualify. Religious Occupation means a habitual engagement in an activity which relates to a traditional religious function. Examples include liturgical workers, religious instructors or cantors, catechists, workers in religious hospitals, missionaries, religious translators, or religious broadcasters. Religious Vocation means a calling to religious life, evidenced by the demonstration of a lifelong commitment, such as taking of vows. Examples include nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters. In order to qualify, the religious worker must, for the past two years, have been a member of the same religious denomination as the petitioning church. Furthermore the petitioning church must have received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS.

Duration of Stay:

R Status may be granted for up to three years. However there is a proposal to reduce the normally granted status from three years to only one year. As long as the work continues and the church continues to petition the religious worker, R status can be extended up to a maximum of five years.

Family Members:

Spouses and children (under 21 and not married) are eligible to obtain R-2, which is a derivative status. They are allowed to accompany the religious worker and remain in the United States. Individuals holding R-2 status may also attend schools.

Fees:

The following is the attorney’s fee that the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC charges for a typical case of this type when filed in the United States at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) (please read the disclaimer on this page) and the filing fee currently charged by US Citizenship and Immigration Service (US CIS):

  • $3,000.00 attorney’s fees for the principal beneficiary petition
  • $350.00 attorney’s fees for family (if family is accompanying)
  • $325.00 US CIS filing fee for the main petition
  • $290.00 US CIS filing fee for the family’s application (if family is accompanying)

Please note that premium processing is currently unavailable for the R Status/Visa.

Experience:

The Law Office of William Jang, PLLC has experience representing clients to obtain R status.

Please see a sample of approved cases.

What do we need to get started?

Information and Documents needed for R

Sample Retainer Agreement

Contact Us

We understand that bringing over a valued worker can be vital to the success of your church’s ministry and we are prepared to assist you with any questions you may have.  Contact an Austin immigration attorney of the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC today at 512-323-2333 for the assistance and information you need.

R-1 Visa FAQs

If I enter the U.S. with an R-1 visa, can I later work for a different employer?

Yes, if you have been approved for an R-1 visa as a nonimmigrant religious worker and enter the U.S. this way, then later determine that you would like to work for a different employer, you can apply to change your nonimmigrant visa status. In these cases, however, the new employer must sponsor you for a new visa. If the new employer is still of a religious organization, they will sponsor you for another R-1 visa. If you want to change work sectors, your employer will have to sponsor you for a different work visa, depending on the type of work and the specific circumstances of your case. For more information about R-1 visas and changing your status, please contact any of the qualified Austin R-1 Visa attorneys from [firm-name] today.

Can an R-1 visa be extended?

Yes, R-1 visas have the potential to be extended by holders for an additional 30 months as long as the visa holder’s total stay in the United States does not exceed a 5 year period. In order to apply for an extension of stay, visa holders need to fill out USCIS Form I-129, petition for a nonimmigrant worker. Visa holders must submit proof to the IRS that they had previous R-1 employment, which requires providing evidence of salaried compensation, such as W-2 forms or certified copies of income tax returns. For more information about how to apply for an R-1 visa extension and what you need to file and submit, please contact any of our skilled Austin immigration attorneys at [phone-number] today.

What are the eligibility requirements for an R-1 visa?

There are a number of eligibility requirements that applicants must meet in order to be approved for an R-1 visa, such as having employment with a nonprofit religious organization in the U.S., working at least 20 hours per week once you enter the U.S., being religiously occupied, having a membership to the religious denomination of your organization for at least two years before applying, and working for the employer who sponsored your visa and only them. The requirements for R-1 visas can often be complicated, so it is always best to employ the use of a skilled immigration attorney to better your chances of being approved. For more information, please contact [firm-name] today.

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