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R1-Visa | For religious workers

Serving San Antonio, Austin and McAllen, Texas

What is an R-1 Visa?

An R-1 visa is issued to non-immigrant religious workers who wish to live and work in the United States on a temporary basis. These individuals may be employed as priests, ministers, and temple workers. They may also work in certain key support positions at religious institutions. In order for a religious worker to be eligible for an R-1 visa, he or she must work for a “recognized” religious institution that enjoys tax-exempt status under U.S. law. For assistance in obtaining this type of visa, contact an R-1 visa lawyer at the Gutierrez Law Firm today.


R-1 visa holders enjoy several crucial benefits. First, these individuals may remain in the United States for two consecutive 30-month terms. They may bring their spouses and dependent children into the country for the duration of these terms under the auspices of the R-2 visa. While their visas are in force, R-1 visa holders are free to enter and exit the U.S. without restriction. Provided that their former and future employers file the proper paperwork with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, they may also change employers without leaving the United States. Finally, wage-earning R-1 visa holders must be compensated in accordance with U.S. labor laws.


All R-1 visa applicants must file a DS-156 non-immigrant visa application before being accepted into the United States. In addition, each religious employer that wishes to import R-1 visa holders must file an I-129 form with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services. Finally, prospective R-1 visa applicants must certify that they are licensed practitioners of their respective religions and attest that they intend to leave the United States after a maximum of five years.


There are a few important restrictions by which all R-1 visa holders must abide. First, each worker must prove that he or she has been a member of his or her current denomination for more than 24 months prior to coming to the United States. Further, there are no circumstances under which R-1 visa holders may remain in the United States for more than 60 months. If these individuals wish to remain in the U.S., they must first return to their home countries for at least one year. Finally, spouses and dependent children who enter the country on R-2 visas are not eligible to work.

How the Gutierrez Law Firm Can Help

The R-1 visa attorneys at the Gutierrez Law Firm are ready to work with all manner of religious organizations to ensure that their workers are able to enter and exit the United States in a legal manner.

To learn more about the process of obtaining a visa, call 210.225.7114 to schedule a consultation with a R-1 visa lawyer.

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