Passage Immigration Law specializes in Religious Workers Visas, Business Immigration and Family Immigration. With over ten years of experience and a broad range of lawyers at our disposal, we are eager to help you navigate the immigration maze in a way that brings clarity, peace of mind, and efficiency.
Additionally, with a strong theological and religious background to our team, we are passionate about helping a broad range of religious organizations and the religious workers that come in on R-1 visas from abroad, bringing wisdom, experience, and passion to the culture of the United States.
★ In fiscal year 2020, the United States issued a total of 3,819 religious worker visas, including 2,459 for nonminister religious workers and 1,360 for minister religious workers. (Source: U.S. Department of State)
★ The top five countries of origin for religious worker visa recipients in fiscal year 2020 were Mexico, India, the Philippines, Brazil, and Guatemala. (Source: U.S. Department of State)
★ The maximum number of Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker visas that may be issued each fiscal year is 5,000. (Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
In 2020, the United States issued 3,506 R-1 visas to religious workers. (Source: U.S. Department of State, “Nonimmigrant Visa Statistics.”)
★ 1952 – The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was enacted, which established a temporary visa category for ministers and religious workers coming to the United States to work in a religious vocation or occupation.
★ 1986 – The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) amended the INA and created the R-1 nonimmigrant visa category for religious workers. The R-1 visa allows religious workers to come to the United States to work in a religious capacity for up to five years.
Since the R-1 Visa was created, it has undergone numerous revisions up to the present time.
– Senator Dianne Feinstein
Religious workers play a vital role in communities across America, and our immigration policies should reflect that.
– Senator Orrin Hatch
Religious workers who come to the United States make invaluable contributions to our communities and enrich the cultural fabric of our country.
Access to Skilled Religious Workers: R-1 visas allow churches and religious organizations to hire skilled and experienced religious workers from other countries to fill positions that cannot be filled by U.S. workers. This provides these organizations with access to a broader pool of talent and expertise
Cultural Diversity: Religious workers from other countries bring a diversity of cultural backgrounds and experiences to churches and religious organizations, which can enrich the organization’s work and the lives of its members. This diversity can also promote greater understanding and tolerance among different cultures and religions.
Fulfillment of Religious Mission: Religious workers play a critical role in helping churches and religious organizations fulfill their religious missions. They provide important services such as pastoral care, teaching, and outreach to the community, and help to ensure that these organizations can carry out their work effectively
International Connections: Religious workers from other countries can also help churches and religious organizations establish connections with other communities and organizations around the world. This can help to expand the organization’s reach and influence and promote greater collaboration and understanding across different cultures and religions.
Be a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the United States.
The applicant must have been a member of the same religious denomination as the U.S. religious organization for at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the R-1 visa petition.
Coming to the United States temporarily to work at least part-time (an average of at least 20 hours per week) as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation only for the non–profit religious U.S. organization. The U.S. religious organization must be able to prove its tax-exempt status and its affiliation with a religious denomination.
The first step is to ensure that the religious worker meets the qualifications for the R-1 visa.
Next, the U.S. religious organization that is offering the job must file a petition on behalf of the religious worker with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If the USCIS approves the petition, the religious worker can apply for an R-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
The religious worker will be required to attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
If the consular officer approves the visa application, the worker will receive their visa and can enter the United States to begin working in their religious capacity.
While the United States is generally welcoming to those attempting to visit the country on a religious worker visa, there are occasionally some obstacles that may come up in the process. Many of these are born out of an attempt to limit fraud, but they can be overcome. Some of the potential obstacles include:
Immigration is an area that can often be subject to fraud, and this is sadly true of even the religious worker visa program. As a result, there is often significant scrutiny involved in the process. It’s critical that you have a thorough application that addresses any of the potential concerns. The key to navigating the application process is understanding what immigration officials are looking for and how to satisfy their concerns.
At Passage Immigration Law, we have experience working with immigration officials, and that allows us to understand what it is that they are looking to see from an application. We understand what kinds of supporting documentation should be submitted to help them see the validity of an application. If you are a religious worker interested in coming to the U.S. on an R-1 visa, contact us today to discuss your situation.
"*" indicates required fields