Additional Evidence Required – Organization Affiliated with Religious Denomination
In addition to the general evidence requirements, a bona fide organization that is affiliated with the religious denomination is also required to submit a Religious Denomination Certification signed by an authorized official of the religious denomination, certifying that the petitioning organization is affiliated with the religious denomination. If the affiliated organization was granted tax-exempt status under IRC 501(c)(3) under a category other than religious organization, in addition to the general requirements, the petitioner must also provide:
- Documentation that establishes the religious nature and purpose of the organization, such as a copy of the organizing instrument of the organization that specifies the purposes of the organization; and
- Organizational literature, such as books, articles, brochures, calendars, flyers, and other literature describing the religious purpose and nature of the activities of the organization.
The petitioner must provide information and specifically attest to the following (in addition to attesting that it is a qualifying R-1 employer):
- The number of members of the petitioning employer’s organization;
- The number of employees who work at the same location where the religious worker will be employed, and a summary of those employees’ responsibilities;
- The number of religious workers holding special immigrant religious worker status or R-1 nonimmigrant status currently employed or employed within the past 5 years by the petitioning employer’s organization;
- The number of special immigrant religious worker and R-1 nonimmigrant petitions and applications filed by or on behalf of any religious workers for employment by the petitioning employer in the past 5 years;
- The title of the position offered to the beneficiary;
- Detailed description of the beneficiary’s proposed daily duties;
- The particulars of the salaried or non-salaried compensation or self-support for the position;
- A statement that beneficiary will be employed at least 20 hours per week;
- The specific location(s) of employment;
- The beneficiary will not be engaged in secular employment;
- The beneficiary is qualified to perform the duties of the offered position; and
- The beneficiary has been a member of the denomination for at least 2 years.
USCIS may conduct a pre-approval inspection. In that case, successfully completing the inspection will be a condition for USCIS to approve the petition.The religious organization must provide the physical address where the beneficiary will work for the USCIS to conduct a pre-approval site inspection. In addition, the USCIS can –
- Inspect the beneficiary’s work location after adjudicating the form to verify work hours, compensation, and duties.
- Complete a post-adjudication inspection in cases of suspected fraud or where the petitioning entity has undergone substantial changes since its last filing.
- Closely monitor the site visit program to ensure it does not cause undue delays in the adjudication process.
Period of Stay
The USCIS may grant R-1 status for an initial period of admission for up to 30 months and subsequent extensions for up to an additional 30 months. The beneficiary’s total period of stay in the U.S. under the R-1 classification cannot exceed five years (60 months).
Nonimmigrant religious workers must maintain the intent to depart the United States when their nonimmigrant stay expires. At the same time, USCIS may not deny a nonimmigrant petition, application for initial admission, change of status, or extension of stay in R classification solely based on a filed or an approved permanent labor certification application or immigrant visa petition.
Family of R-1 Visa Holders
An R-1 religious worker’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for R-2 classification. However, an R-2 dependent is not authorized to work based on this visa classification.
Notification of Termination of Employment
The petitioner must notify the USCIS within 14 days of any change in the nonimmigrant religious worker’s employment. For the religious worker to change employers, the new petitioner must file a new Form I-129, attestation, and supporting evidence.
Change of Location of Employment
A change in employment location may constitute a material change to the terms and conditions of employment as specified in the original approved R-1 petition. If there is a material change in the terms or conditions of employment (or the beneficiary’s eligibility), the petitioner may be required to file an amended petition and receive approval before the beneficiary’s move to a new location of employment.If it is anticipated that beneficiaries will be moved between different locations within a larger organization, that organization should file the petition. For example, a minister may move from ministry to ministry within a denomination, including at a different or additional unit of the religious denomination if the petitioning organization oversees all of these locations.
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