R1 Visas – All You Need to Know

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

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An R1 Visa can be very useful for foreigners who want to work in the US. If you don’t know what it is, how you can qualify for one and any other information, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find everything in this post.

What Is an R1 Visa?

An R1 Visa is pretty much a work visa. It is suitable for people who want to work in the United States as religious workers. It works for the short-term, and many immigrants have the opportunity to get one, as there’s no limit to how many people can get it.

Who Is Eligible for an R1 Visa?

There are a few criteria you must meet before being eligible for an R1 Visa. First of all, you must make sure that you will have at least a part-time job in the US, which means at least 20 hours will be spent at work weekly.

Concurrently, you have to get a job that has to do with your religion. In other words, you must either work in a religious place or be a minister there. That means you will not be suitable for R1 Visas if your job is anything other than in the religious field.

You are also eligible if you’ve had a bona fide nonprofit religious organization, and you’ve been a religious denomination member prior to applying for the Visa. At least two years should be spent in that position before you apply for R1 Visa.

Not to mention that you should also be a worker for whoever classifies you as an R1 nonimmigrant with the petition. The employer will have a nonprofit religious organization in the US as well, and that is where you are going to work.

Documents Required for an R1 Visa

What you have to keep in mind is that the application is done under some mandatory documents, without which you might not be accepted. So, you’ll need a photograph, passports (a current one as well as the old ones), and the appointment letter, both in original and a copied form.

An I-123 Petition Receipt Number will be needed, and the confirmation page that you submit for Form DS-160, together with the CEAC barcode.

Of course, there might also be some additional documents required, depending on the situation. Such documents may include proof of your financial support, certificates, diplomas, recommendation letters, and the list can go on.

How to Apply for an R1 Visa

Some particular documents are required from you upon being accepted for an R1 Visa. You will first have to complete the Form I-129, but not before looking for instructions on how to do it.

There will be a filing fee that you will have to submit together with the Form I-129. However, in some cases, there might also be a biometric services fee, so keep that in mind when reading the instructions.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you will have to make copies of the Form I-129, as you’ll have to submit them as well. By not doing this, the whole process could be slowed down and your whole plans ruined. So, do not forget to provide duplicates of the document as well.

You’ll need some evidence to support your Form I-129 – thus, make sure you get all evidence that will help your application. Lastly, you must provide a signature, go to the filing location and submit the documents.

How Much Does an R1 Visa Cost?

Applying for an R1 Visa will be $180. Paying this fee will ensure that you can proceed with the rest of the application, but there might be other fees involved. It all depends on what country you’re coming from. There could also be a filing fee of $460.

R1 Visa Processing Time

You have to be aware that the processing time doesn’t go by with the snap of your fingers. It can actually take a while to have it approved. If you apply at this very moment, you might get a response only after 6 months.

Then, the processing might go faster if you pay a fee for premium processing, and in about 2 weeks you will get a response. If you do not want premium processing, it will take an additional 2 or 3 months to get the Visa.

R1 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

Many people have curiosities when it comes to these visas, so it’s important to address them and shed some light upon the matter. Here are some frequently asked questions about the R1 Visa.

Who Doesn’t Qualify for an R1 Visa?

Of course, R1 Visas won’t be given to just anyone. Some people will not qualify for them, depending on the situation.

For example, if you’re someone who won’t be working at a religious organization or church, or won’t be doing anything related to their activities, you won’t qualify. As specified previously, these Visas are particularly for religious workers who pursue a career in the field, and nobody else.

Being a volunteer won’t instantly put an R1 Visa in your hands either. You must be a paid worker – otherwise, you will not be able to qualify.

Not to mention that the job itself must also be something religious-related. Simply put, you must be a minister, monk, choir director or something similar.

Can Spouses and Children Get R1 Visas?

If you want your significant other and your children to come with you while you’re working, they must apply for an R2 Visa. An R1 Visa is solely meant for workers. Since they will most likely not be working, they have to apply for an R2 one to be able to stay with you.

Keep in mind that the children must be under 21 and unmarried to be able to apply for an R2 Visa. In addition, you should have proof of your ability to provide financial support for your family while in the US. They are not allowed to get employed, yet they will have the opportunity to study.

What Is an R1 Visa Waiver?

An R1 Visa waiver may grant you access to a Visa when you’re ineligible. Basically, people who don’t fit the admission criteria, yet they are short-term religious workers, can apply for a waiver. If the waiver is approved, you have the chance to be issued a Visa.

What Happens After You Apply for Your R1 Visa?

Once you submit the application, the USCIS will receive the Form I-129. Later, you will get a response from them with a receipt notice for your Form I-129, and a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. Likewise, you should receive a written notice of their decision.

If you get accepted and receive your Visa, the first admission period is 30 months. However, if you need to stay for longer, you can extend the period to five years.


An R1 Visa can be really helpful if you want to pursue a job in the religious field in the US. Since submitting the documents and waiting to get accepted is not the easiest process, it’s important to know what it involves. Hopefully, this post was able to answer your questions regarding this type of visa. You can also check our other articles for more information.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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