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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 [...]

Food and Clothing Drive for Bridgeport Rescue Mission

Kidambi & Associates, P.C. organized a food and clothing drive to donate to Bridgeport Rescue Mission.  Bridgeport Rescue Mission helps the homeless in coastal Fairfield County with food and emergency shelter. Bridgeport Rescue Mission is dedicated to fighting poverty from the inside out. They provide vital services to men, women, and children dealing with hunger and homelessness, enabling them to return to the community healed and whole.   We are thankful to be a part of this and hope to make a difference every year.

Premium Processing L1A Approval

Excellent .. You made my day! As always, you are a Star..! I firmly believe Vaman’s secret sauce is his team!

— Ravi, USA, E-mail

Certain Non-immigrants Can Now File Form I-539 Online

You may file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status, online if you are applying as a single applicant (without co-applicants, or legal or accredited representation) to extend your stay and you hold status as a:

B-1 temporary visitor for business;
B-2 temporary visitor for pleasure;
F-1 academic student with a specific status expiration date;
F-2 spouse or child of an academic student with a specific expiration date;
M-1 vocational student; or
M-2 spouse or child of an M-1 student.

For more information, read the USCIS news release.

USCIS Accelerates Transition to Digital Immigration Processing

USCIS announced a new strategy known as eProcessing to accelerate USCIS’ transition to a digital business model. eProcessing will be a complete digital experience, from applying for a benefit, to communicating with USCIS, through receiving a decision on a case.

As a first step, certain visitors for business, visitors for pleasure, and vocational students can now apply online to extend their stay in the United States. Additional classifications are coming soon.

eProcessing connects previously separate technology systems within the agency to ultimately improve decision timeliness, increase transparency during the application process, and to accelerate the availability of online filing for all immigration benefits.

Each year, USCIS receives more than 8 million requests for immigration benefits. Improvements to USCIS technology will continue to enable more applicants to submit many of these requests online.

USCIS will create official digital immigration records through this fully modernized process of applying for immigration benefits. From application to decision, eProcessing will give USCIS officials faster access to applicant data. Applicants will encounter a more responsive and effective USCIS.

Applicants may confirm their online filing eligibility at uscis.gov/i539online, and then file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status online with their USCIS account.

New, increased fees for international students, exchange visitors, SEVP-certified schools

DHS has finalized changes to fees charged by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to international students, exchange visitors and SEVP-certified schools. The new fees will take effect June 24, 2019.  Read the news release.

Fee increases include:

  • The I-901 SEVIS Fee for F and M international students will increase from $200 to $350.
  • DHS will maintain the $35 I-901 SEVIS Fee for J exchange visitors in the au pair, camp counselor, and summer work travel program participant categories, but increase the full I-901 SEVIS Fee for other J exchange visitors from $180 to $220.
  • The SEVP school certification petition fee for initial certification will increase from $1,700 to $3,000.

New fees include:

  • A $1,250 fee for SEVP-certified schools filing a petition for recertification.
  • A $675 fee when schools file the Form I-290B, “Notice of Appeal or Motion.”
  • DHS will maintain the $655 fee for an initial school site visit but will also charge this fee when a SEVP-certified school changes its physical location or adds a new physical location or campus to its Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student.”

 

HandiCAPping Anyone? Making Sense of the H-1B Random Selection Process

On May 17th, the USCIS announced it had completed data entry for all fiscal year 2020 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in the computer-generated random selection process, including those selected under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. Now, the Service will begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. This process usually takes approximately 8-14 weeks to be completed.

We will provide clients with updates as and when we receive rejected packets. Clients have already received confirmation and receipts electronically. Additionally, we will provide cancelled checks and rejection notices to complete the filing process for this year.

Clients have been curious as to how they fared this year.

Well, although the USCIS will release a complete list of petitioners with the number of petitions selected, there is a place to look up this information currently available on online. Earlier this year, the USCIS launched the H-1B Employer Data Hub; The H-1B Employer Data Hub includes data from 2009 through 2019 on employers who have submitted petitions to employ H-1B nonimmigrant workers. Data can be queried by fiscal year, employer name, city, state, zip code, and NAICS code. The H-1B Employer Data Hub has data on the first decisions USCIS makes on petitions for initial and continuing employment. It identifies employers by the last four digits of their tax identification. You can also download annual and query-specific data in .csv format.

Our own experience has been a mixed bag. Several employers who only filed one petition found success. In other words, a “hole in one”. In other cases, petitioners who filed multiple petitions saw selection at an average of between 40-65% (a double bogey at best). Clearly, some did better than others. Perhaps, this was a result of the algorithm, or the sheer randomness of the selection process. Either way, this process is now done!

Next year, the USCIS will launch a different process for H-1B selection including, a pre-registration phase for employers.