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R-1 visas are non-immigrant visas that permit religious workers (ministers and foreign nationals working in religious vocations or occupations) to be temporarily employed by a non-profit, tax-exempt religious organization. A religious denomination is defined generally as an organization having a formal code of doctrine and discipline, religious services and ceremonies, some form of ecclesiastical government, a recognized creed and form of worship, religious congregations, and established places of worship. There is no annual cap on the number of R-1 visas issued to religious workers. To qualify for an R-1 visa, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination for at least two years immediately prior to the filing of the petition for an R-1 visa and must also have a job offer to work for an affiliate of that same religious organization in the U.S. The criteria for qualifying for an R-1 visa are essentially the same as the qualifying criteria for religious workers who apply for an EB-4 “special immigrant” visa.

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