Tax Exempt Status

According to the USCIS, the following evidence must be submitted for “eligibility to file Form I-129 for an R-1 nonimmigrant.”

Evidence the petitioner must submit for R1 visa classification varies as follows for bona fide non-profit religious organizations that claim a tax emption as follows:

  1. The religious organization has an approved IRS 501(c)(3) letter. The evidence is a current valid IRS letter showing the determination that the religious organization is exempt. Valid determination letters include letters issued before the effective date of the “Internal Revenue Code of 1986” and letters issued pursuant to subsequent Internal Revenue Code revisions.
  2. The religious organization has tax-exempt recognition – under a group tax exemption. Generally, if the petitioning religious organization is within the parent organization’s umbrella, the parent religious organization can authorize the petitioning religious organization to use its tax emption. “The petitioning entity, in turn, may generally place the minister in an entity in its jurisdiction. “The evidence requires is both of the following:
    • A current approved IRS letter – showing that the group has tax exempt approval – under 8 CFR §214.2(r)(9)(iii)
    • group ruling that the group is tax exempt.

Bona fide organizations (though not officially religious organizations) which are affiliated with the religious denomination and have 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt status (“or subsequent amendment or equivalent sections of prior enactments of the Internal Revenue Code) as something other than a religious organization” must provide:

  • An IRS valid determination letter that is current and establishes the organization’s tax-exempt status
  • Documentation “establishing the religious nature and purpose of the organization”
  • “Organizational literature describing the religious purpose and nature of the activities of the organization; and
  • “A religious denomination certification stating that the petitioning organization is affiliated with the religious denomination.”

A valid determination letter includes those issued before the effective date of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and also those which may be issued under future Internal Revenue Code revisions must supply the following evidence:

Organizations that petition for R1 visas which do not qualify as “religious organizations” can show that they are affiliated with a religious denomination by complying with additional Form I-129 requirements such as “completing the Religious Denomination Certification (RDC).” The RDC needs to be signed by “an organization other than the petitioning organization, and attest that the petitioning organization is part of the same religious denomination as the attesting organization.”

Proof that the religious worker seeking the R1 visa will receive a salary or non-salaried compensation

The religious organization that is filing the petition must show how the religious worker will have financial support while in the United States.

Self-support can only be considered by the USCIS for certain nonimmigrant missionaries. Additional evidence must be submitted for self-support visa requests.

Evidence of compensation for the religious worker includes:

  • How similar jobs were compensated for in the past
  • The religious organization should show how money for salary, leases, and other items are being appropriated for
  • Evidence to show that religious worker will have room and board

Documentation should, if available, be provided – such as W-2 forms or certified tax returns. Comparable documents which can be verified may be suitable if an explanation is provided for why the forms and tax returns aren’t available.

Documentation required if the religious worker will be supporting himself/herself

The documents must show that the religious worker’s position is one that is part of an established program for “temporary, uncompensated missionary work.” The missionary work, should, in turn, be part of a larger international missionary work program – sponsored by the religious denomination.

The documents needed to support proof that there is an established temporary, uncompensated missionary work include such items as showing that the missionaries receive formal training and that they traditionally don’t receive compensation.

Other evidence is also required to verify the self-supporting requirement such as that the religious worker has been accepted into the missionary program and the duties and responsibilities the missionary will have.

Contact an experienced immigration lawyer to review your R1 tax-exempt requirements

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