The United States issues millions of visas every year to people wanting to visit, work, or live in the country. There are various types of visas that one can apply for when seeking entry into the U.S. An R-1 visa is one of many types of employment visas issued to foreign workers. It is a short-term nonimmigrant work visa and is available to religious workers. If you wish to enter the United States and believe an R-1 visa is the best option for you, contact an employment visa attorney in New York City to discuss your visa requirements and gain helpful insight.

Who Qualifies for an R-1 Visa?

Any type of visa will come with certain requirements that qualify or disqualify an applicant. An applicant who is eligible for an R-1 visa will meet the following requirements.

  • Be a member of a legitimate religious denomination
  • Have been a part of the religion for 2 years or longer
  • Have secured a job offer from a religious organization of the same religion
  • Be offered the role of minister, priest, monk, choir director, cantor, or another religious vocation
  • Plan to work 20 hours per week or more

If the above applies to your situation you may be eligible to apply. Speak with an immigration attorney for more information and to determine whether or not this type of employment visa is right for you.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

The R-1 visa can be a great opportunity for a foreign citizen to spend time working in the United States. Depending on your unique circumstances this type of visa may or may not be the best course of action for you. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of this visa can include the following.


  • It offers legal employment and residence in the U.S.
  • Including extensions the visa can allow a person to remain legally in the U.S. for five years
  • The visa holder can travel within and outside of the U.S.
  • The spouse or child of the visa holder can apply for an R-2 visa and enter the country legally through their family member’s R-1 visa
  • You can pursue permanent resident status while holding the R-1 visa


  • If the visa holder wants to change jobs or work elsewhere they need to apply for a new visa
  • Family members who accompany the visa holder with an R-2 visa cannot obtain employment in the U.S.
  • The application process can be lengthy and include extensive waiting periods

How Can I Apply for an R-1 Visa?

The application process for an R-1 visa can be time-consuming but it is relatively straightforward. Refer to and complete the following required steps with the help of an employment visa attorney.

  1. The employer must file Form I-129, the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
  2. Work with the employer to collect and submit evidence including a letter of support, job description, proof of compensation, religious documentation, etc.
  3. Allow for an on-site inspection if required.
  4. Attend an interview with a USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) officer and wait for approval.