The R-1 visa is a visa that religious denominations can apply for individuals engaged in religious services, such as pastors or ministers. The first R-1 visa is issued for a stay of 30 months and can be extended for an additional 30 months. The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of the visa applicant are eligible for an R-2 visa.
The religious denomination for which you are applying for a visa must be a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. You must also demonstrate that the denomination can financially support the religious practitioner it seeks to hire. If the religious practitioner is a volunteer who engages in religion without the support of the denomination, he or she needs to prove that he or she can afford the living expenses on his own. However, if you are planning to apply for permanent residency through an R-1 visa, you must prove that you have worked for at least two years with pay. The religious applicant must have been a member of the denomination for at least two years immediately prior to the application for the R-1 visa, and must be engaged in the religious vocation or occupation full-time or part-time.