The R-1 Religious Worker Visa by LozanoLawFirm


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									                                      The R-1 Religious Worker Visa

U.S. immigration law allows religious organizations, and their affiliates, to obtain R-1 Religious Worker
visas for foreign religious workers. Organizations that have a religious purpose and are tax exempt
under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) qualify to obtain R-1 visas, as well as organizations that are
closely affiliated with a religious denomination and that are also tax exempt. Affiliated organizations
include hospitals, schools, daycares and other institutions associated with churches and religious groups
or communities.

These organizations can obtain R-1 visas for foreign ministers, members of a religious vocation, or
persons in religious occupations. A minister is a person trained in a denomination's religious doctrines
and practices who leads the organization's worship or performs other duties normally performed by
clergy. Lay preachers and persons not authorized to perform religious duties are not included in this
category. Members of a religious vocation are persons who have made a formal lifetime commitment
to a religious way of life, including nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters. To obtain an R-1 visa
for a member of a religious vocation, the religious denomination must have a class of people who
dedicate their lives to religious practice, as opposed to other members of the denomination. Finally,
persons in religious occupations are employees who carry out the religious creed and beliefs of the
organization through their day-to-day work.

These religious workers do not include administrative staff members, like secretaries, janitors, or
fundraisers, but include doctrinal teachers, policy directors at religious institutions, and other
administrators who direct the work of the religious organization.

Often an R-1 visa meets the needs of religious organizations better than other employment visas, which
may require higher salaries for workers and more government fees. In all, an R-1 visa petition will
expose the religious organization to financial and organizational scrutiny by the Immigration Service,
including possible on-site inspections by immigration officials, but these visas can help religious
institutions get the foreign ministers and workers they need to support their religious communities.

About the Author:

Alfredo Lozano of The Lozano Law Firm is an experienced San Antonio immigration lawyer. Attorney
Lozano is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, State Bar of Texas,
Federal Bar Association, and San Antonio Bar Association. He is also Board Certified in Immigration and
Nationality Law by Texas Board of Legal Specialization. For more information please call 210-932-3600
or visit

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