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 [...]

Employment Based Green Card (EB3) w/Child Aging Out

Hi Andres and Mr. Kidambi,

I have been meaning to write to you for some time. This past labor day makes it 17 years in this country. I remember landing in JFK in 2004 on Labor day weekend. Thank you for being part of my journey in celebrating this 17th anniversary, especially with a Green card.  You have been through the thick and thin of it all. I appreciate your work and support.

— Mary. S.

Yasmin Blackburn, Esq. Appointed to The National Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Kidambi & Associates, P.C. is proud to announce that Attorney Yasmin A. Blackburn, who has been with the Firm for over 17 years and is a Senior Associate, has been appointed to The National Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Attorney Blackburn oversees several areas of practice including labor certification for the Firm. She has extensive business immigration experience handling H, L, TN, VAWA and complex EB-1 Multinational Management. She also advises companies on a range of workplace issues, including immigration and I-9 compliance, and E-Verify best practices.

Attorney Blackburn earned her law degree from the Beasley School of Law at Temple University and her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iowa State University.

About the AILA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee is charged with promoting full and equal participation of all members in chapters, committees and groups including lawyers of varying genders, national origins, racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation and gender identity, religious beliefs, age, marital status, geographic location, and lawyer with disabilities; expanding the diversity of access to leadership opportunities; and to assuring that the immigration bar reflects the society it serves.

WORKING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC – Office Working Hours and Petition Filing Procedure

Dear Client,

Your immigration is our priority. Please stay safe while we continue to assist you during this global crisis. In keeping with the nationwide trend, our office has resorted to  a hybrid model of working in person and remotely all five days of the week. You may continue to call the Office and enter your caseworker’s extension to be connected. However, the best way to reach us is via email.

From time to time, we will keep you informed of the latest through this post.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

O-1 Visa for Tennis Coach. 221(g) at U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and Subsequent Approval

Guess what. I can’t wait to break the news to you. I finally got my visa for the work permit !!!

I want to say a big thank you. You and your company are just really good .You have really been supportive all through, even when I was initially refused, you still made yourself available for all my correspondence and you keep advising.

— Andrew R.

Winning Back-to-Back Approvals for EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability) and EB-1B (Outstanding Researcher)

By Matthew Snyder, Esq.

Of the employment-based immigrant visa categories, the First Preference category has a certain sense of mystique and fascination. Intentionally, the USCIS regulations sets the bar very high for this employment based category.  For the EB-1A, which does not require an offer of employment, or labor certification, the USCIS suggests the following evidentiary criteria:

You must meet at least 3 of the 10 criteria* below, or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal) as well as evidence showing that you will be continuing to work in the area of your expertise.

In this article, I would like to highlight two recent approvals that we received. The first was an EB-1A approval for an individual who had certain high achievements in the Financial/Investment Banking Industry and the second and EB-1B approval, for an Assistant Professor at a State University. Significantly, the latter petition was filed as a researcher and not as a professor since the candidate had shown certain unique achievements as a researcher but was in a non-tenure track position at the university.

The EB-1A case for the financial professional raised several challenges. How does one document the work and achievements of someone who is rarely seen in public, works behind the scenes and is involved in work that is highly sensitive and confidential? Despite being the main engine behind several mega deals, the beneficiary’s name did not appear in any newspaper articles or financial documents. Thus, it was left to our office to find a way to both document and highlight the beneficiary’s extraordinary accomplishments in his field.

One of the advantages of working with a boutique law firm specializing in employment-based immigration is that we can spend the time necessary to fully flesh out ideas and arguments without constantly having to worry about “billables”. Putting together evidence of this nature requires enormous patience and effort, not to mention time. Anyone who writes for a living must readily identify with the effort required to produce a compelling argument without sounding repetitive and uninteresting.

The EB-1B petition came to us at the NOID stage. Our initial task was to carefully review a copy of the petition that was filed by the Client’s current representative. What we saw was a “cookie cutter” petition with hardly anything in the petition standing out. The writing style was terse and formulaic. Obviously, this Firm had made it their “business” to file EB-1 immigrant petitions.  We really did not think the Petition stood a chance. We recommended withdrawing and refiling.

Many researchers and professors publish work in their field, have others cite their research, and participate in industry panels, etc. However, merely satisfying the regulatory prongs is not sufficient for an approval.

In fact, the NOID acknowledged the fact that the initial submission had met at least two of the prongs but had failed to demonstrate the beneficiary was an outstanding researcher by a preponderance of the evidence. This is called the Final Merits Determination (this standard is set forth pursuant to the holding in Kazarian v. USCIS).

We worked collaboratively and crafted a petition that highlighted the beneficiary’s achievements and contributions to the field. These arguments were painstakingly put together after a thorough review of the candidate’s background through numerous documents, letter samples and yes, some sleepless nights! Our goal was to have USCIS readily see the beneficiary as an outstanding researcher in his field. The case was approved straight away – no RFE or NOID!

If you are interested in pursuing an EB-1 visa, please contact us at intake@kidambi.com to schedule a consultation with one of our Attorneys.

PERM – Employment Based Green Card

Our I-485 got approved finally, took 11 yr 5 months. We got the email approval notification last week and expecting the cards sometime this week. I started my journey with Vaman back in 2007, but we could start only in Sep 2009.
We can’t appreciate enough Vaman and entire his team’s help and support in my pursuit of PR. THANK YOU very much from bottom of my heart.

– Sriram, USA, E-mail

Yasmin Blackburn, Esq. Appointed to National AILA Liaison Committee

Kidambi & Associates, P.C. is proud to announce that Attorney Yasmin A. Blackburn, who has been with the Firm for over 17 years and is a Senior Associate, has been appointed to The National Department of Labor Liaison Committee by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Attorney Blackburn oversees several areas of practice including labor certification for the Firm. She has extensive business immigration experience handling H, L, TN, VAWA and complex EB-1 Multinational Management. She also advises companies on a range of workplace issues, including immigration and I-9 compliance, and E-Verify best practices.

Attorney Blackburn earned her law degree from the Beasley School of Law at Temple University and her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iowa State University.

About the AILA Department of Labor Liaison Committee

The AILA DOL Liaison Committee meets with the Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification and other stakeholder groups to discuss policy issues and trends related to temporary (H-2A, H-2B) and permanent labor certification (H-1B) applications, labor condition applications (LCAs), prevailing wage, and other issues. It also occasionally meets with the DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA). The committee prepares practice pointers, monitors the Message Center to spot issues, tracks trends based on AILA member experiences, provides comments to proposed regulations, and tracks issues in the PERM and FLAG systems, and the DOL Help Desk.

Exceptions to Suspension of Entry Due to COVID Surge in India – What to Know and How to Apply for a National Interest Exception Waiver

Introduction

For the past 10 days, we have been fielding calls from clients who have a compelling need to travel to, or from India. Unfortunately, the Presidential Proclamation[1] that went into effect on May 4th has made an already complex situation, more difficult. The US Embassies in India have suspended all routine non immigrant and immigrant visa services. We urge clients to carefully consider risks, both from a health perspective and from an immigration angle, before undertaking travel to India. From reports of limited PCR testing availability to frequent cancellations of international flights, the process of returning from travel to India may become complicated and be delayed significantly.

For those that are planning travel from India, the Presidential ban on travel specifically exempts certain individuals. According to the proclamation, this list includes:

    1. any lawful permanent resident of the United States
    2. any noncitizen national of the United States
    3. any noncitizen who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
    4. any noncitizen who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21
    5. any noncitizen who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21
    6. any noncitizen who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications
    7. any noncitizen traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus
    8. any noncitizen traveling as a non immigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D non immigrant visa as a crewmember or any noncitizen otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew
    9. It also exempts certain non-citizens who are:
      1. seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following visas: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a non immigrant in one of those NATO categories); or
      2. whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement
    10. any noncitizen who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or who is a spouse or child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces
    11. any noncitizen whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; or
    12. any noncitizen whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.

Exemption will also extend to an individual’s eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the regulations issued pursuant to the legislation implementing the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, consistent with the laws and regulations of the United States.

National Interest Exception

On May 13th, the Department of State provided an update on obtaining a National Interest Exception for Certain Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland. Absent notably in the list was India.

While most non immigrants cannot enter the US at this time, one may be able to obtain a waiver from the Embassy in India. The US Embassy in New Delhi lists the following process to apply for a waiver:

Visa holders with definite plans to travel who can demonstrate qualification for a National Interest Exception may contact the Embassy or Consulate that issued their visa to request a national interest exception prior to travel:

The email must include the following information for all travelers seeking an exception, as it appears on the visa:

Last name:
First name:
Date of birth, in DDMMMYYY format (ie – 01JAN2021):
Gender (M/F):
Country of birth:
Country of citizenship:
Passport number:
Visa Number* and Category:
Issuing Post Name (upper left corner of visa):
Travel dates:
Travel purpose and national interest category, including a clear justification for receipt of a NIE:

Each request will be carefully considered as our limited resources allow.  Emails in languages other than English may slow response time.  We aim to respond to each request within two weeks but cannot guarantee a decision date or the outcome of the decision. Errors in the submitted data may prevent approval in NIE requests.

Please note that national interest exceptions, when granted, are valid for a single entry within 30 days of approval.

Some clients have asked the obvious question. What if we travel to a third country (not currently subject to the suspension) and spend 14 days in quarantine before undertaking travel to the US? We are unsure how this is likely to play out at the port of entry. We have credible reports that the CBP is asking travelers to list countries that they have traveled to since they left India even if it has been more than 14 days. With COVID cases multiplying in several world destinations, and more cases of travel suspension being contemplated, it may be wise to weigh the risk of being stuck in a third country, prior to undertaking travel. The prospect of having to return to India due to the travel suspension after undertaking an arduous journey through a third country is at best fraught with risk.

Finally, we suggest discussing your options with an Attorney at Kidambi & Associates prior to making any travel plans.

[1] For a list of Presidential Proclamations, Click HERE.

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