R1 religion visa is for applicants coming to the US temporarily to be employed at least part time (ie an average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the US or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the US to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation. R1 religion visa applicants must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the US for at least two years immediately preceding the filing of the application.
R1 religion visa application must be filed by a prospective or existing US employer. The US employer must provide its tax-exempt status by presenting the following documents:
- If the religious organization has its own individual IRS 501(c)(3) letter, provide a currently valid determination letter from the IRS establishing that the organization is a tax-exempt organization;
- If the organization is recognized as tax-exempt under a group tax-exemption, provide a group ruling; or
- If the organization is affiliated with the religious denomination, provide:
- A currently valid determination letter from the IRS;
- Documentation that establishes the religious nature and purpose of the organization;
- Organizational literature; and
- A religious denomination certification, which is part of the R1 Classification Supplement form.
US employer of R1 visa applicants must present proof of salaried or non-salaried compensation. Verifiable evidence of how the organization intends to compensate the R1 visa applicant including specific monetary or in-kind compensation should include the following:
- Past evidence of compensation for similar positions;
- Budgets showing monies set aside for salaries, leases, etc.;
- Evidence that room and board will be provided to the religious worker;
- If IRS documentation, such as IRS Form W-2 or certified tax returns, is available, it must be provided; and
- If IRS documentation is not available, an explanation for its absence must be provided, along with comparable, verifiable documentation.
R1 religion visa applicants that will be self-supporting must present the following:
- Documents that establish 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 that establishes that the organization has an established program for temporary, uncompensated missionary work in which:
- Foreign workers, whether compensated or uncompensated, have previously participated in R1 status;
- Missionary workers are traditionally uncompensated;
- The organization provides formal training for missionaries; and
- Participation in such missionary work is an established element of religious development in that denomination;
- Evidence that establishes that the organization’s religious denomination maintains missionary programs both in the US 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; and
- Copies of the religious worker’s bank records, budgets documenting the sources of self-support including personal or family savings, room and board with host families in the US, donations from the denomination’s churches or other verifiable evidence.
R1 religion visa applicants must also provide the following:
- Proof of membership; and
- Evidence that the religious worker is a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately preceding the filing of the application.
R1 religion visa applicants working as a minister must provide the following:
- A copy of the religious worker’s certificate of ordination or similar documents;
- Documents reflecting acceptance of the religious worker’s qualification as a minister in the religious denomination as well as evidence that the religious worker has completed any course of prescribed theological education at an accredited theological institution normally required or recognized by that religious denomination. Transcripts, curriculum, and documentation that establishes that the theological institution is accredited by the denomination should be included; and
Denominations that do not require a prescribed theological education must provide the following:
- The religious denomination’s requirements for ordination to minister
- A list of duties performed by virtue of ordination
- The denomination’s levels of ordination, if any, and
- Evidence of the religious worker’s completion of the denomination’s requirements for ordination.