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P-1 visaA foreign national may come to the U.S. temporarily to be employed  by a non-profit religious organization in the United States to work as a minister or in a religious occupation. Part-time employment is allowed.


Applicant must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the U. S. for at least 2 years immediately before the filing of the petition.

Religious Organization

  • Proof of tax-exempt status
  • Proof of salaried or non-salaried compensation
  • Verifiable evidence showing how the organization will compensate the religious worker, including specific monetary or in-kind compensation.

 If the religious worker will be self-supporting USCIS requires the following documents as proof:

    • Documents that show 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 showing that the organization has an established program for temporary, uncompensated missionary work in which:
      1. Compensated or uncompensated foreign workers previously held R-1 status;
      2. Missionary workers are traditionally uncompensated;
      3. The organization provides formal training for missionaries; and
      4. Participation in such missionary work is an established element of religious development in that denomination.
    • Evidence showing 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 or budgets documenting the sources of self-support. This may include, but is not limited to, personal or family savings, room and board with host families in the United States, donations from the denomination’s churches, or other verifiable evidence. See

Application Procedure:

U.S. employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of an R-1 worker at USCIS induplicate. Visa exempt workers must present the original Form I-797, Notice of Action, at a port of entry as evidence of an approved I-129 R petition.

Length of Stay

Foreign National can receive R-1 status approval for 30 months with 30 months extension. The maximum time a person can stay on R-1 visa shall not exceed 60 months (5 years). Only actual physical presence in the U.S. counts towards the 60 months.


Spouse and children of R-1 visa holder can obtain R-2 visa but they are not allowed to work in the U.S.

Green Cards

Religious workers can petition for Permanent Residency under EB-4 category .


 If I apply for an R-1 visa will  I still be able to travel to the U.S. on my visitor visa while the R-1 is pending?You can use your visitor visa until the R-1 status is granted. Foreign nationals can maintain only one status at any given point of time. You can likely come to the U.S. on a visitor visa as long as you are not coming to work in the United States. Once your R-1 gets granted, its only then that your visitor visa is not valid.

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