The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency has a checklist of items that they recommend religious workers seeing a green card and the religious organizations that sponsor these religious workers review. The list is for informational purposes. The religious workers and religious organizations should review all the religious worker green card requirements with an experienced immigration attorney.
A meeting with USCIS, religious worker stakeholders, and the California Service Center (CSC) was held on July 14, 2011, and July 28, 2011. The discussion touched on numerous topics including Requests for Evidence, on-site inspections, and other R1 matters. Some of the questions and answers follow:
Some of the additional questions discussed at a meeting among USCIS, the California Service Center, and the religious worker stakeholders
On March 8, 2012, USCIS issued a memorandum on the issue of how long foreign nationals who seek R1 nonimmigrant visas can come to America to perform temporary religious work. The memo reviews the issue of whether and how religious workers can recapture the time they spend outside of the US – when the worker seeks an extension of his/her R1 visa.
For many religious workers, an R-1 visa is a stepping-stone to obtaining a green card. The requirements for R-1 visas and green cards are similar but not identical. An experienced immigration lawyer understands the differences. He also understands the formalities that you need to meet to either transfer/adjust an R-1 visa to an approved green card status or to file for a green card initially.
Petition to Classify Alien as a Nonimmigrant Religious Worker to Perform Services as a “Deacon/Minister” Denied
On December 19,2019, the AOA denied a petition by a church to obtain an R-1 nonimmigrant visa to temporarily employ a foreign national as a deacon/minister. The INA does provide that non-profit religious organizations can seek R1 visas for foreign nationals to work as “ministers, in religious vocations, or in religious occupations in the United States.”
Appeal of a Request to Classify a Beneficiary as a Non-Immigrant Worker to Work as a Pastor – Granted
The USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decides most appeals when immigration petitions are denied – including requests for R1 nonimmigrant visas. The decisions do more than just decide the petitioner’s appeals. They provide guidance for petitioners and applicants who have similar legal issues. The case. In Re: 4486949 Appeal of California Service Center Decision [...]
According to the USCIS, the following evidence must be submitted for “eligibility to file Form I-129 for an R-1 nonimmigrant.” Proof the petitioner must submit for R1 visa classification varies as follows for bona fide non-profit religious organizations that claim a tax exemption as follows:
R1 visas apply to foreigners who are seeking to work in the United States on a temporary or full-time basis – as a minister or in another religious position. Generally, the alien needs a religious sponsor in the United States. Obtaining the first R-1 visa can take time because a site visit may be required.