R-1 Visa2018-03-13T01:36:08+00:00

R-1 Visa

The Religious Worker (R) visa is for persons seeking to enter the United States (U.S.) to work in a religious capacity on a temporary basis, under provisions of U.S. law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Our approach to processing R-1 Visas

An R-1 is a foreign national who could be temporarily employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.

Important Note: It is very important for prospective employers to file the petition as soon as possible (but not more than 6 months before the proposed employment will begin) to provide adequate time for petition and subsequent visa processing.

Religious workers include persons authorized, by a recognized employing entity, to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion, and workers engaging in a religious vocation or occupation.

  • The applicant must be a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the U.S.;
  • The religious denomination and its affiliate, if applicable, are either exempt from taxation or qualifies for tax-exempt status; and
  • The applicant has been a member of the denomination for two years immediately preceding applying for religious worker status. The applicant is planning to work as a minister of that denomination, or in a religious occupation or vocation for a bona fide, non-profit religious organization (or a tax-exempt affiliate of such an organization). There is no requirement that individuals applying for “R” visas have a residence abroad that they have no intention of abandoning. However, they must intend to depart the U.S. at the end of their lawful status, absent specific indications or evidence to the contrary. The applicant has resided and been physically present outside the U.S. for the immediate prior year, if he or she has previously spent five years in this category.

Every petition for an R-1 worker must be filed by a prospective or existing U.S. employer through the filing of a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. An R-1 visa cannot be issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad without prior approval of Form I-129 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the foreign national is visa-exempt (e.g. Canadian), he or she must present the original Form I-797, Notice of Action, reflecting an approval of a valid I-129 R petition at a port of entry.

Important Note: Visa applicants must bring the approved I-129 petition receipt number to the interview, so that petition approval can be verified.

There are certain general requirements which must be satisfied by the petitioning organization as well as by the religious worker, the beneficiary of the petition. These requirements are listed in the chart below.

The petitioning employer must submit Form I-129 including the R-1 Classification Supplement signed by the employer as well as the following supporting documents:

Supporting Documents Required for the Religious Organization

Supporting Documents Required for the Religious Worker

Proof of tax-exempt status
· If the religious organization has its own individual IRS 501(c)(3) letter, provide a currently valid determination letter from the IRS establishing that the organization is a tax-exempt organization
· If the organization is recognized as tax-exempt under a group tax-exemption, provide a group ruling
· If the organization is affiliated with the religious denomination, provide:
A currently valid determination letter from the IRS;
Documentation that establishes the religious nature and purpose of the organization;
Organizational literature; and
A religious denomination certification, which is part of the R-1 Classification Supplement to Form I-129 (see the links to the right).
Proof of salaried or non-salaried compensation
· Verifiable evidence of how the organization intends to compensate the religious worker, including specific monetary or in-kind compensation. Evidence of compensation may include:
Past evidence of compensation for similar positions
Budgets showing monies set aside for salaries, leases, etc.
Evidence that room and board will be provided to the religious worker
If IRS documentation, such as IRS Form W-2 or certified tax returns, is available, it must be provided
If IRS documentation is not available, an explanation for its absence must be provided, along with comparable, verifiable documentation
If the religious worker will be self-supporting
· Documents that establish the religious worker will hold a position that is part of an established program for temporary, uncompensated missionary work, which is part of a broader international program of missionary work sponsored by the denomination
· Evidence that establishes that the organization has an established program for temporary, uncompensated missionary work in which:
Foreign workers, whether compensated or uncompensated, have previously participated in R-1 status;
Missionary workers are traditionally uncompensated;
The organization provides formal training for missionaries; and
Participation in such missionary work is an established element of religious development in that denomination.
· Evidence that establishes that the organization’s religious denomination maintains missionary programs both in the United States and abroad
· Evidence of the religious worker’s acceptance into the missionary program
· Evidence of the duties and responsibilities associated with this traditionally uncompensated missionary work
· Copies of the religious worker’s bank records, budgets documenting the sources of self-support (including personal or family savings, room and board with host families in the United States, donations from the denomination’s churches), or other verifiable evidence acceptable to USCIS
Proof of membership
· Evidence that the religious worker is a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of Form I-129
If the religious worker will be working as a minister, provide:
· A copy of the religious worker’s certificate of ordination or similar documents
· Documents reflecting acceptance of the religious worker’s qualification as a minister in the religious denomination, as well as evidence that the religious worker has completed any course of prescribed theological education at an accredited theological institution normally required or recognized by that religious denomination. Include transcripts, curriculum, and documentation that establishes that the theological institution is accredited by the denomination
· If the denominations do not require a prescribed theological education, provide:
The religious denomination’s requirements for ordination to minister
A list of duties performed by virtue of ordination
The denomination’s levels of ordination, if any, and
Evidence of the religious worker’s completion of the denomination’s requirements for ordination
Proof of previous R-1 employment (for extension of stay as an R-1)
· If you received salaried compensation, provide IRS documentation that you received a salary, such as an IRS Form W-2 or certified copies of filed income tax returns reflecting such work and compensation for the previous R-1 employment
· If you received non-salaried compensation:
If IRS documentation is available, provide IRS documentation of the non-salaried compensation
If IRS documentation is not available, provide an explanation for the absence of IRS documentation and verifiable evidence of all financial support, including stipends, room and board, or other support for you with a description of the location where you lived, a lease to establish where you lived, or other evidence acceptable to USCIS
· If you received no salary but provided for your own support and that of any dependents, provide verifiable documents to show how support was maintained, such as audited financial statements, financial institution records, brokerage account statements, trust documents signed by an attorney, or other evidence acceptable to USCIS

Period of Stay

An R-1 status may be granted for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months. An extension of an R-1 status may be granted for up to an additional 30 months. The total stay in the United States in an R-1 status cannot exceed 60 months (5 years).

Family of R-1 Visa Holders

R-1 worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for R-2 classification. The dependents of an R-1 worker may not accept employment while in the United States in R-2 status.

12Mar, 2012

R-1 Visa Memorandum

This memorandum provides instruction to Immigration Service Officers who adjudicate R-1 nonimmigrant petitions for aliens who are coming to the [...]

In-ground Basketball hoop

Kidambi & Associates, P.C. is very happy and proud to help out the local community. This summer, we fulfilled the wish list of Harris & Tucker School in New Haven, CT by providing them with an in-ground basketball hoop geared for children ages 3-12. Harris and Tucker School is dedicated to meeting the needs of families while combining early learning and education with high quality child care for children ages 6 weeks through 12 years.

USCIS Using Tablets to Administer the English Reading and Writing Tests for Naturalization

On Oct. 1, USCIS began using digital tablets to administer the English reading and writing tests during naturalization interviews as part of the agency’s ongoing business modernization efforts. Although USCIS applicants already use digital tablets to sign or verify parts of their applications, this new approach expands tablet usage, allowing the device to be used for a greater portion of the application process. USCIS will be able to continue using the paper process on a case-by-case basis.

While the eligibility requirements and the subject material of the naturalization test have not changed, applicants are now using a stylus on a digital tablet instead of a paper application. Immigration Services Officers (ISO) will carefully instruct applicants on how to use the tablets before administering the tests:

  • For the reading test, a sentence will appear on the tablet and the ISO will ask the applicant to read it.
  • For the writing test, several lines will appear on the tablet, replicating the appearance of a piece of blank paper. The ISO will read a sentence aloud and ask the applicant to write it on the tablet.

Applicants will continue to take the civics test verbally, without the tablet.

 

I485/Green Card

We had the interview today at USCIS field office. The case officer informed us that the application is approved and we should be receiving the green card within a month.

Many thanks to the team for all the support during this process.

 

— Uma, E-mail

Family Based; Citizen sponsoring spouse

Thank you for all of your help and please thank Mr. Kidambi as well. We appreciated the helpful conference calls and interview prep and although the interview did not include many detailed questions, We felt confident and prepared.

Thanks again,

Moorthy, USA, E-mail

EAD/AP

We have received the EAD/AP cards for me and my wife. Thanks again for all the help. 
You guys rock as always!!!

 

H-1B Denials – The New Reality of Non-immigrant Life in these United States

The consultation was not going well! Between emotional outbursts berating the USCIS, the young man, originally from India, was trying to explain his situation and clearly not making it any easier on himself. I couldn’t blame him for feeling the way he did. After 12 years of being in this country in H-1B status (and an approved I-140 through his current employer), he had just been told that the USCIS had denied his extension because they did not feel he was working in a “specialty occupation”.

This, after no less than 4 extensions and a couple of amendments that clearly demonstrated the Service had recognized his work to be “complex enough” to qualify as a specialty occupation. This employee had been working at the same location for over half a dozen years, doing the exact same work. He was devastated and so was his family. His young son (H-4 dependent) was a rising senior and would now have to leave the country along with his parents.

Lately, I have been fielding at least one, or two H-1B denial consultations a week. This is not normal. For over twenty years, the Request for Evidence (RFE) process was used sparingly. Of course, there are always exceptions, but the average RFE rate was approximately 15-20%. This statistic has been turned on its head since the beginning of the year . The RFE rates have increased dramatically and the number of denials has begun to climb. For instance, here is a table from an article by the NFAP:

It is obvious the number of RFEs has trebled, but what is even more significant is the increase in RFEs issued when the beneficiary is from India.
With the Service shutting down premium processing, fear and anxiety rules the minds of candidates wanting to switch employers. No one wants to commit to a new employer when they have no way of knowing the outcome of the petition for months on end. The concept of “portability”, introduced to encourage mobility of H-1B workers, is no longer relevant. As one client put it, “I feel indentured to my current employer for the duration of the approval notice.”

The USCIS is slowly morphing into an enforcement agency with no thought as to how this process is likely to affect businesses that have come to rely on highly skilled workers. This is even more significant and complicated for beneficiaries of denied H-1B petitions. In June this year, the Service released a memo[1] that threatens to refer denials to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and initiate Notices to Appear if they linger beyond the 10 days allowed for departure. As if this were not complicated enough, the Service issued yet another memo that allows USCIS officers, as of September 11th, the right to deny H-1B petitions without issuing an RFE or NOID.

To get back to my consultation, notwithstanding the devasted H-1B employee, I am particularly concerned about the effect denials have over H-1B spouses and children. Spouses with H-4 EADs must stop working because their status is tied to the H-1B nonimmigrant. Children are hardest hit because, for no fault of their own, they see their lives dislocated and their future disrupted. This is not the America that we know so well. No, this is a challenging, unforgiving place for nonimmigrants who can no longer afford to pursue the “American dream” without being tested every step of the way!

[1] On September 26th, the USCIS announced that the June 2018 NTA Policy Memo will not be implemented with respect to employment-based petitions and humanitarian applications and petitions at this time. Existing guidance for these case types will remain in effect. See: https://www.uscis.gov/legal-resources/notice-appear-policy-memorandum