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 [...]

7 Things to Know About the H-1B CAP

The registration process for the H-1B FY2022 lottery begins shortly and we have some tips and general guidelines for those looking to file this year. Our office is happy to assist you with these filings at no charge (except the $10 registration fee charged by USCIS).


  1. Registration Period is from March 09th to March 25th
  • The registration process will take place between March 09 and March 25. All registrations must be filed within this timeframe and you must file a registration for each H-1B candidate you wish to sponsor for this year’s cap. Registrations for this year’s cap will not be considered beyond March 25. We strongly suggest you send us this information as soon as possible.


    • The sponsoring entity’s legal name (& DBA name) and FEIN
    • The name and position title of the sponsoring entity’s signatory
    • A full copy of the H-1B candidate’s passport (which we can use to get their biographic information);
    • Full copies of the H-1B candidate’s education documents (diplomas and transcripts – for candidates with unrelated degrees please also provide resumes and detailed letters of experience – see discussion below);
    • The H-1B candidate’s current address; and
    • The H-1B candidate’s position title, job duties, salary and work location.


  1. Registrations are Specific to the Individual and Non-Transferrable
  • You must file a separate registration for each potential H-1B candidate. These registrations are candidate-specific, meaning that you cannot change your mind later and use a registration for anyone but that person.


  1. You May Only File One Registration Per Individual
  • A sponsor may only file one registration per individual. Filing duplicates will result in all registrations for that individual being declared invalid.


  1. The Selection Process is NOT based on Salary for the H-1B Cap FY2022
  • The previous administration was in the process of putting rules in place that would base the selection process on salary. Namely, candidates with the highest salaries would be selected for the H-1B cap. The current administration has put this rule on hold for this year’s cap and is considering whether to implement it in the future.


  1. H-1B Candidates with Unrelated Degrees
  • A successful candidate must have at least a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, in a related field. Education is the baseline that USCIS uses to determine whether a candidate qualifies for an H-1B.
  • USCIS has a process for evaluating a candidate’s professional experience to supplement an unrelated degree. However, utilizing this process is (1) more time consuming and (2) in our experience poses a greater risk of denial. Wherever possible, we strongly suggest employers choose candidates with bachelor’s degrees (or higher) in related degrees.
  • If you choose to proceed with a candidate that holds an unrelated degree, we will need a resume of that individual and detailed letters from previous employers showing at least 3 years, but preferably 6 plus years of related experience.


  1. H-1B Master’s Degree Cap Candidates
  • H-1B Cap petition can be filed under one of two categories. The first is the H-1B Regular Cap requiring a candidate with at least a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, in a related field.
  • The second is the H-1B Master’s Cap requiring a candidate with at least a master’s degree from a United States college or university that meets two requirements. These two requirements are: (1) that the school is properly accredited and (2) the school is a public university or other nonprofit institution. It is important to determine before registering the H-1B candidate whether this individual will qualify under the master’s Cap. Once selected for the master’s Cap, an H-1B candidate is unable to switch back to the Regular Cap, even if this individual is ineligible. This could result in the case being rejected or denied by USCIS.
  • We will assist all clients with determining the proper Cap to choose for each H-1B candidate.


  1. USCIS should Publish the Selected Individuals by March 31
  • USCIS plans to notify employers of the selected registrants by March 31. Employers will then be given a 90-day time frame to file their H-1B petitions.


Please contact us if you have any additional questions regarding the H-1B registration process.


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I became a US citizen. Everything went well, and it was a great day for me. Thank you for your assistance, and the amazing work. Please convey my gratitude to Mr.Kidambi, as this would not happen without his great experience in the field.

— Yan, USA, E-mail


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— Ashish, C., USA, E-mail

FY 2022 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period Opens on March 9

USCIS today announced that the initial registration period for the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern on March 9 and run through noon Eastern on March 25. During this period, prospective petitioners and representatives will be able to fill out petitioner and beneficiary information and submit their registrations.

A confirmation number will be assigned to each registration submitted for the FY 2022 H-1B cap. This number is used solely to track registrations; you cannot use this number to track your case status in Case Status Online.

Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners or their representatives are required to use a myUSCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each registration submitted on behalf of each beneficiary. Prospective petitioners submitting their own registrations (U.S. employers and U.S. agents, collectively known as “registrants”) will use a “registrant” account that will be available soon. Representatives may add clients to their accounts at any time, but both representatives and registrants must wait until March 9 to enter beneficiary information and submit the $10 fee. Prospective petitioners or their representatives will be able to submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session. Through the account, they will be able to prepare, edit, and store draft registrations prior to final payment and submission of each registration.

If USCIS receives enough registrations by March 25, USCIS will randomly select registrations and send selection notifications via users’ myUSCIS online accounts. USCIS intends to notify account holders by March 31.

An H-1B cap-subject petition may only be filed by a petitioner whose registration for that beneficiary was selected in the H-1B registration process.

USCIS will conduct public engagements and other outreach activities to ensure that representatives and registrants are familiar with the electronic registration process.

Additional information, step-by-step registration instructions, and helpful videos are available on the H-1B Electronic Registration Process page.

H-1B Selection Process Rule Effective Date Delay

USCIS has also announced that DHS is delaying the effective date of the H-1B Selection Process final rule until Dec. 31, 2021. USCIS will apply the regulations currently in place (random selection) to the initial registration period, and, any subsequent registration period for the FY 2022 registration process that takes place before Dec. 31, 2021.

Additional information is available in the Federal Register notice.

February 2021 Visa Bulletin

February 2021 Visa Bulletin is now available.

Unless otherwise indicated on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website at www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo, individuals seeking to file applications for adjustment of status with USCIS in the Department of Homeland Security must use the “Final Action Dates” charts for determining when they can file such applications. When USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for the fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will state on its website that applicants may instead use the “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” charts in this Bulletin.

Memorandum Issued to Halt USCIS/DOL Action affecting H-1B Visa Process

The Biden Administration through White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, issued a memorandum on January 20th that specifically instructs Agencies that a “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review” is effective as of noon on January 20, 2021 in order to ensure that the President’s appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending rules.

Among other things, the Memo further states, at the direction of the President, Agencies take the following steps:

1. Propose or issue no rule in any manner — including by sending a rule to the Office of the Federal Register (the “OFR”) — until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the President after noon on January 20, 2021, reviews and approves the rule.

2. With respect to rules that have been sent to the OFR but not published in the Federal Register, immediately withdraw them from the OFR for review and approval

3. With respect to rules that have been published in the Federal Register, or rules that have been issued in any manner, but have not taken effect, consider postponing the rules’ effective dates for 60 days from the date of this memorandum

According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, as a result of this Memo, the modified version of the Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program Final Rule sent to the Federal Register on January 15, but not yet published, will be withdrawn.

In addition, the H-1B Wage Selection Final Rule, may upon further agency action be postponed until March 21, 2021.

The clarifying filing requirements for LCAs by secondary employers and the H-1B program obligations for common-law employers published by the Department of Labor on January 15, 2021, rely on the finalization of the DHS Rule, and it is likely that they will be withdrawn by DOL as well.

We will continue to monitor any agency action and provide you with an update through iMail©

DOL Final Rule on Computation of Prevailing Wage Levels

The DOL published a final rule adopting, with changes, the interim final rule published at 85 FR 63872. The Rule is amending the regulations governing permanent labor certifications and Labor Condition Applications to incorporate changes to the computation of prevailing wage levels. The rule is effective 3/15/21. (86 FR 3608, 1/14/21).  Read the final rule.

USCIS to Replace Sticker That Extends Validity of Green Cards

USCIS announced that starting in January 2021, it will replace the sticker that is currently issued to lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to extend the validity of their Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (PRC or “Green Card”) with a revised Form I-797, Notice of Action for Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. The revised I-797 receipt notice, together with an applicant’s PRC, will serve as temporary evidence of lawful permanent resident status for 12 months from the expiration date on the face of the Green Card. Read the news release.

DHS Publishes Final Rule Creating Wage-Based Selection System for Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions

On January 8, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule which will replace the current random selection process by which USCIS selects H-1B registrations for filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions with a wage-based selection process. The new system will select registrations based on the highest Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) prevailing wage level that the offered wage equals or exceeds for the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and area(s) of intended employment. This ranking process will not affect the order of selection as between the regular cap and the advanced degree exemption; the wage level ranking will occur first for the regular cap selection and then for the advanced degree exemption.

The following summary provides an overview of the main provisions of the rule and how it will change the H-1B registration process:

  • If more registrations are received during the annual initial registration period than necessary to reach the applicable numerical allocation, USCIS will rank and select the registrations received on the basis of the highest OES wage level that the proffered wage equaled or exceeded for the relevant SOC code and in the area of intended employment, beginning with OES wage level IV and proceeding in descending order with OES wage levels III, II, and I.
  • If the proffered wage falls below an OES wage level I, because the proffered wage is based on a prevailing wage from another legitimate source (other than OES) or an independent authoritative source, USCIS will rank the registration as OES level I.
  • After completion of the selection process for the regular 65,000 H-1B cap, USCIS will utilize the same ranking and selection process to meet the advanced-degree exemption if a sufficient number of registrations were submitted during the annual initial registration period to reach the advanced-degree exemption.
  • If USCIS receives and ranks more registrations at a particular wage level than the projected number needed to meet the applicable numerical allocation, USCIS will randomly select from all registrations within that particular wage level to reach the applicable numerical limitation.
  • If the H-1B beneficiary will work in multiple locations, USCIS will rank and select the registration based on the lowest corresponding OES wage level that the proffered wage will equal or exceed.
  • Where there is no current OES prevailing wage information for the proffered position, USCIS will rank and select the registration based on the OES wage level that corresponds to the requirements of the proffered position.
  • DHS has proposed changes to the H-1B electronic registration tool and Form I-129 to require petitioners to indicate the highest OES wage level that the beneficiary’s proffered wage equals or exceeds for the relevant SOC code in the area of intended employment.
  • USCIS may deny or revoke approval of a subsequent new or amended petition filed by the petitioner, or a related entity, on behalf of the same beneficiary, if USCIS determines that the filing of the new or amended petition is part of the petitioner’s attempt to unfairly decrease the proffered wage to an amount that would be equivalent to a lower wage level, after listing a higher wage level on the registration to increase the odds of selection.
  • USCIS will not deny an amended or new petition solely based on a different proffered wage if that wage does not correspond to a lower OES wage level than the wage level on which the registration was based.
  • Notably, DHS estimates in its final rule that under the new wage-based selection process, no registrations for individuals who are paid a Level 1 wage will be selected to submit an H-1B cap-subject petition.

The rule is scheduled to take effect on March 9, 2021. However, the President-Elect’s transition team has indicated that the Biden Administration will issue a memorandum on January 20 delaying implementation of “midnight regulations” (i.e., those issued since the election but not yet effective). It is anticipated that the Biden Administration will adopt a 60-day delayed effective date for such midnight regulations. Depending on how the memorandum is worded, the effective date of this DHS final rule could be delayed either to March 21, 2021 (sixty days from the date of the Presidential memorandum) or May 8, 2021 (sixty days from the regulation’s effective date as published in the Federal Register).

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