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.

PERM Certification Granted on Appeal – BALCA Decision Captures Diligent Effort by our Team

I shared the outcome of a BALCA appeal with a client who was delighted by its similarity to his own situation; he suggested I share the published decision (now in the public domain) with others who might benefit from the ruling. I demurred until I received this email:

Mr. Kidambi,

I am an AILA member and I am working on a project for AILA’s update to its PERM book.  I am updating my BALCA case summary chart that breaks down relevant cases in three aspects (due process, regulatory interpretation, and case law analysis).  Additionally, the chart cross-references cases on similar topics (ex. Advertisement Content, Applicant Review, etc.).  The chart starts in 2012 and will run through the present date.

I wanted to compliment you for your work on the 2017 Clearstructure Financial Technology case.  In my opinion, the use of H.6/H.11 can be a challenge in many settings.  In other BALCA cases, employers have “won” on the H.6/H.11 applicant rejection argument, but “lost” because the sponsored worker did not meet the requirement either.  Great work. All the best.

BALCA Case No.: 2016-PER-00775, was a very good case to win since it allowed the Applicant to secure an excellent priority date. Form ETA 9089, Item H.6/H.11 (Job Opportunity Information – Experience/Job Duties) contained the very minimum requirements for the position of a “Marketing Analyst”. The Certifying Officer denied the Application after an audit since the employer had not interviewed one of the applicants who appeared qualified for the position.

Case notes from the file revealed that the employer had articulated very clear, valid and compelling reasons why he thought the applicant was unqualified for the position. However, the question we had to answer as part of the appeal was – did the employer’s reasons rise beyond the requirements at § 656.17(g)(2)? Specifically, “[r]ejecting U.S. workers for lacking skills necessary to perform the duties involved in the occupation, where the U.S. workers are capable of acquiring the skills during a reasonable period of on-the-job training is not a lawful job-related reason for rejection of the U.S. workers.

I believe the final decision hinged on the employer’s recruitment report which contained a very detailed statement from the employer. Attorney Blackburn worked diligently with the employer to capture his analysis in a well-written statement. Here are salient paragraphs:

As a reason for what the position entailed, the employer stated (Page 7 of the Decision):

“…CS is a software company that specializes in developing and licensing a web based portfolio management software application that targets Asset Managers, Hedge Funds, Loan Trading and fixed income investment markets. The requirement is both technical and specialized given that our product caters to institutional investors buying and selling a variety of asset types.”

The letter further went on to emphasize the applicant’s lack of marketing knowledge and experience (Page 7 of the Decision):

“[The Applicant]…has no portfolio management experience and this is one of the most important areas of experience we were looking for since it‘s our core business… web marketing experience as described in his resume is limited to posting social media posts to Facebook and Twitter — a very rudimentary skill…but it’s not experience that is relevant to the CS Marketing Analyst position. The Marketing Analyst position requires knowledge and expertise on how to conduct web marketing and branding campaigns to smaller, specialized markets (gather data on competitors, provide necessary information for promotions, distribution, design, setting price of products and/or services) and how to pull people to our website.

The ALJ agreed stating (Page 10 of the Decision):

Accordingly, we find the Applicant‘s resume does not raise a reasonable possibility that he met the Employer‘s experience requirements, and therefore the Employer was not required to make further inquiry into the Applicant‘s qualifications.

The Application has since been certified.

H-1B Petition for Network & Systems Administrator Approved!

Congrats!!

I was very concerned that the approval for this may not come thru. Thanks to your diligence and attention to detail we got the approval and a big sigh of relief for us.

Vaman: We are grateful to you and your wonderful team for the support and extra care they always provide for all of our requests and cases.

– Sam, USA, E-mail

USCIS to Expand Information Services Modernization Program to Key Locations

USCIS will expand its Information Services Modernization Program to key field offices, beginning with the Detroit Field Office and the five offices in the Los Angeles District on Nov. 13. Field offices in the Newark, Great Lakes, and San Francisco districts will implement the program during the first quarter of FY 2019. USCIS anticipates expanding the program to all remaining field offices by the end of FY 2019.

The Information Services Modernization Program ends self-scheduling of InfoPass appointments and instead encourages applicants to use USCIS online information resources to view general how-to information and check case statuses through the USCIS Contact Center. The online tools provide applicants the ability to obtain their case status and other immigration information without having to visit a local field office.  When it is determined an applicant does need in-person assistance under the Information Services Modernization Program, personnel at the USCIS Contact Center will help schedule an appointment without the individual having to search for available timeslots.

BALCA Upholds Denial Based on Procedural Grounds

BALCA found that when an employer requests review by BALCA, rather than filing a MTR, BALCA is only bound to consider information before the CO upon denial and the employer is prevented from supplementing the record with information. (Matter of University of California-Berkeley, 8/30/18)  Read BALCA decision(PDF).

Great Pumpkin Classic 5K Run

Kidambi & Associates, P.C. is a proud sponsor of the annual Great Pumpkin Classic 5k Road Race, Kids Fun Run and 2 mile Health walk in Trumbull. This popular event attracts runners and walkers from throughout the region and is considered one of the premier running events in the area, benefitting many throughout the community. Proceeds will be used to support the THS Scholarship Foundation, the TCC Grant Fund and the TCW Scholarship Program. We are delighted to support this worthy cause for many years now.