The R-1 visa category is reserved for Religious Workers. To qualify as a Religious Worker in this visa category, you must be a member of a religious denomination that has a genuine nonprofit religious organization in the U.S. You must have held membership in the denomination for at least two years before you can apply. To qualify as a genuine non-profit, the organization must be exempt from paying U.S. taxes, or eligible for tax-exempt status.
In addition, as a Religious Worker you are can only perform certain duties for the denomination. Specifically, you must serve as a minister, or in another recognized religious vocation.
In order to sponsor a Religious Worker for R-1 status, a religious organization must first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the INS). After the petition is approved, the Religious Worker can apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
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