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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.

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

Alert: USCIS will resume premium processing on Monday, Jan. 28 for all fiscal year (FY) 2019 H-1B cap petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the “master’s cap”). The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for all other categories of H-1B petitions to which it applied. We plan to resume premium processing for the remaining categories of H‑1B petitions as agency workloads permit. Read more here: USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions.

Please note this does not include petitions filed to request change of employers, or amendments. The temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for these categories.

Family Based Green Card

Mr. Kidambi –

Mother received her green card by mail a couple of days back. I want to thank you and your team for a smooth and efficient handling of the application process. My mother, sister and I are really happy with your efficiency and professionalism.

Thank you,

CV

H-1B Maxed Out; PERM Audited-I-140 Approval

Dear Vaman, Yasmin, Andres,

Thank you so much for this good news. On behalf of the company and my family, we appreciate your effort and support to make my case strong. Thank God! One more to go, H-1B. I’m sure we will overcome, since I know my case is in good hand 😊.

— Prakash, USA, E-mail

USCIS launches new online fee calculator to help avoid incorrect payments

USCIS has launched a new Online Fee Calculator to assist members of the public in calculating the correct fee amount to include when filing their forms with USCIS at an agency lockbox facility. A list of forms processed at USCIS Lockbox facilities is available on the USCIS website.

USCIS developed the Online Fee Calculator to help reduce the number of applications rejected due to incorrect fee amounts. The Online Fee Calculator will determine the exact filing and biometric fees an individual needs to include with their forms and will always have the most up-to-date fee information.  When using the Online Fee Calculator, filers select a form, or combination of forms, and answer a series of questions. The tool then calculates the correct fee amount that the filer must submit.  The Online Fee Calculator works on all browsers and on both desktop and mobile devices. To protect privacy, the tool does not collect user data.

 

 

H-1B CAP & USCIS’ New Registration Process – What You Need to Know!

Introduction:

  • On December 3, 2018, USCIS-DHS, published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to change the H-1B filing and random selection (read lottery) process.
  • The new process will require employer’s to electronically register to file each prospective petition for their H-1B employees during the designated “registration period”.
  • Prospective employees with a U.S. masters or higher degree will be given first preference and be considered for the CAP first.
  • Given everything that must happen with just under 90 days, the implementation of this new registration process may not be completed by April 1st; therefore, USCIS may end up following the same process it did last year for this year’s CAP.
  • The USCIS may still adopt a different algorithm (we don’t know how the random selection process is completed) for this year, prioritizing U.S. master’s or higher degree visa holders.
  • This is a proposed rule and the final regulations are awaited. We will provide you with a roadmap for your H-1B filings as soon as we have clarity. In the meantime, it is best to prepare as if the CAP process will be the same as last year.

Process:

  • The new process will require employers file electronically to register each potential H1B employee.
  • An attestation stating an intent to file an H-1B petition for each prospective employee will be part of the process
  • Petitioners will only be allowed to submit one registration per employee
  • No fees for registering
  • A further selection from the pool of timely-filed electronic registrations will be conducted and only those who are selected will be eligible to file a full petition
  • Selected registrants will be allowed 60 days (within a certain period) to file
  • Filing may be staggered for registrants

Issues:

  • Employers may submit registration information for far more employees than they might end up filing.
  • Registrations may be incomplete, or be for individuals who may not actually be able to qualify for an H-1B petition
  • Under the current system, when H-1B petitions are rejected, the USCIS returns petition packages with a control number and evidence of having considered the petition against the CAP. No such evidence is likely to accompany registrations not considered for the CAP, causing confusion, distrust and anxiety among employees
  • Multiple registrations could be made for the same set of individuals vying for employment with several employers
  • Providing preferential treatment for U.S. master’s or higher degree holders would have the unintended consequence of discriminating against U.S. bachelor’s degree holders and jobs that don’t traditionally require someone with a U.S. master’s degree, or higher
  • The algorithm used to select candidates from active registrants continues to remain a mystery

ALERT – LCA system Down

LCA and PERM Prevailing Wages Processing to Resume Tentatively at 2:00 p.m. EST on MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2019

 

Last night, the DOL announced that: The iCERT system for application processing is tentatively scheduled to open at 2:00 p.m. EST on MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2019. The Department is currently testing the system to process a record number of applicants. DOL has made 50 servers available for processing, more than eight times as many as available for processing on January 1, 2019.

To offer a further detailed update, senior leaders of the Employment and Training Administration will be conducting a conference call TODAY, FRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. EST to provide a further update on the status of the iCERT system. The conference call can be accessed by calling 1-888-946-6304 and using participant code 9462870.