The R-1 visa is available to foreign nationals working in a professional capacity for a religious organization. The R-1 can be a minister or other type of religious leader, but other religious workers are eligible for R-1 visas as well. In order to qualify, the position must serve a religious function. Additionally, an R-1 must be a member of a religious denomination for at least two years prior to filing the visa application.
The religious organization does not necessarily need to be a church or house of worship. However, some factors that will be considered in determining whether the organization qualifies as a religious one is whether there is an ecclesiastical form of government, a creed and form of worship, a formal code of doctrine and principles, and religious services.
R-1s can be admitted initially for up to 3 years, and are permitted to extend their status for an additional 2 years.