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 http://www.abogadolozano.com.
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