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 drive for Connecticut Food Bank 2019

Kidambi & Associates, P.C. organized a food drive to donate to local Connecticut Food Bank to help with food insecurities.  According to CT Food Bank, nearly half a million Connecticut residents struggle with hunger; more than 127,000 children are food insecure. These are people from all walks of life – children, working parents, seniors or people living with disabilities.  The Firm came together as a team during the holidays to address this problem and made a difference. This year, we collected over 310 items, 16 varieties and over $780 of food and hand delivered them. We are thankful to be a part of this and hope to make a difference every year.

USCIS Announces Implementation of H-1B Electronic Registration Process for Fiscal Year 2021 Cap Season

USCIS announced that it has completed a successful pilot testing phase and is implementing the registration process in the next H-1B lottery. Employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year 2021 cap, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee.

Under this new process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration process that requires only basic information about their company and each requested worker. USCIS will open an initial registration period from March 1 through March 20, 2020. The H-1B random selection process, if needed, will then be run on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

USCIS will post step-by-step instructions informing registrants how to complete the registration process on its website along with key dates and timelines as the initial registration period nears.

“Aliens of Extraordinary Ability” – What Do Successful Petitions Require?

Yes, we did process your friend’s case and yes, his petition was approved. But even though you appear to have the same background, your current circumstances do not warrant a successful petition.” A recent conversation I had with a prospective client ended along these lines.

I was just not comfortable accepting the case even though he had come referred by a friend represented by our Firm and whose EB-1A petition had just been approved. Sometimes, even when two candidates appear to have the same background, it is important to unemotionally look at the facts being presented. The temptation to accept a case is very strong, especially when you’ve tasted success with an earlier petition with a similar background. Sometimes, even two employees working for the same employer in similar positions, may not qualify for the same benefit. In these circumstances, it is better to present an alternative strategy, or have the candidate wait for a more opportune time to file.

I recently saw evidence of a flawed filing that had relied on past success during a consultation (read second opinion following an RFE). The employer was being represented by a “top-notch” law firm with decades of experience in processing National Interest Waivers and EB1 cases. Unfortunately, the firm had used a “cookie cutter” approach to filing this petition and several portions of the Attorney cover letter had language not readily applicable to the candidate. Unfortunately, the first impression created by a sloppy filing is very hard to fix even if amends are made when responding to the RFE.

In contrast, when we begin working on an EB-1A application, we do so with careful deliberation. Oftentimes, the first interview is meant for fact finding and information gathering. Seldom do we decide on representation immediately. Usually, that happens after we’ve had a chance to corroborate the information presented at the intake interview through independent sources. Clients appreciate the candor and willingness to treat each case uniquely.

Then, we lay out a strategy and work very closely with the client from the moment the engagement letter is executed. This begins with providing the client with a very detailed checklist and spreadsheet to list all possible documentary evidence and character/expert witnesses (very similar to the process of gathering evidence prior to a trial); we encourage clients to list as many evidentiary documents and experts as they can muster. Sometimes, even passing references may help reiterate certain aspects of the case. Repetition is never an issue. Clients are given prompts including how, where and when they met a certain expert/peer to allow us to set context and standing.

Next, we engage the client in weekly/bi-weekly meetings to prioritize the gathering of evidence. Experts who are hard to reach or have schedules that do not permit easy access (for e.g., college professors, clinical experts, overseas experts, C-Level executives, etc.) must be dealt with on a priority basis. Whenever and wherever required, we help draft “suggested” letters from these experts, taking special care to let the letter-writers know that the format and contents of the letters are not sacrosanct and they are welcome to revise, alter, or modify the final product in any way, shape, or form. This allows for a candid and yet comprehensive letter writing exercise. The Service gives independent letters more weight than garden variety form letters.

The process of collating the evidence and writing a compelling brief is a labor of love and we take this process very seriously. At least one Associate and a supervising Attorney engage in this process with feedback and contributions from the Beneficiary over a period of four to six weeks. The final product is a work of art and unique to each client. The petition is filed as required by strict USCIS standards and includes everything from a table of contents to numbered pages and exhibit tabs that are referenced in the body of the brief. While nobody can guarantee results, a well-prepared EB1 petition has a more than likely chance of being approved.

As a boutique law firm, we like to focus on one client at a time and thereby ensure the probability of success is very high. If anything, a successful petition requires among other things, meticulous planning and flawless execution. Afterall, we owe this to the Client!

USCIS Implements $10 Fee for H-1B Visa Registration

USCIS today announced a final rule that will require a $10 non-refundable fee for each H-1B registration submitted by petitioning employers, once it implements the electronic registration system. The final rule, Registration Fee Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of
Cap-Subject Aliens, is effective Dec. 9, 2019, and the fee will be required when registrations are submitted.

USCIS is slated to implement the registration process for the FY2021 H-1B cap selection process, pending completed testing of the system. The agency will announce the implementation timeframe and initial registration period in the Federal Register once a formal decision has been made. The public will be notified in advance of implementing the registration requirement.