The United States Immigration and Nationality Act designates two types of visa categories for religious workers: the special immigrant and the nonimmigrant (R-1) religious worker visas. The R-1 classification is for a nonimmigrant religious worker entering the country for temporary employment as a minister, religious affiliate, or professional in a denomination established in the United States as a nonprofit religious organization for at least two years prior to application. Expedition of an R-1 visa is challenging, and the classification was even temporarily suspended from July 30, 2001 until July 20, 2009.
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File Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. All R-1 visa applications must begin with the filing of this form by the U.S. employer in order to verify the petitioner's eligibility and the veracity of the job offer before a visa is issued. The applicant may not --- as was once the case --- obtain an on-the-spot R-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad without having previously completed Form I-129 and having it approved by USCIS. In 2011, the fee to file Form I-129 was $325.
File Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, with USCIS. The Premium Processing Service guarantees 15-calendar-day processing to certain petitioners, including R-1 visa applicants, who use this service. The 15-day countdown begins when the form is received by USCIS at the address specified on the form. If 15-day processing is not realized, the USCIS will refund the Premium Processing Service fee, but the case in question will continue to be expedited by USCIS. In 2011, the fee for Premium Processing Service was $1,225.
USCIS forms are frequently revised and updated, with edition dates noted on the bottom of each form. The edition date on the submitted Form I-907 must match the current edition date listed on the "Form" page at the USCIS website.
Monitor the status of your R-1 visa application on the USCIS website. Locate the box labeled "Case Status" on the home page and enter your case number to check the status of your application. You can also contact USCIS for further information.Tags: Premium Processing, Premium Processing Service, Processing Service, Form I-129, United States, edition date