The U.S. offers R-1 visas to religious workers, such as ministers, temporarily performing religious work in the country. Some workers only have to stay in the country for a short period, but due to various circumstances, others have to stay longer and even extend. In these cases, does the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allow extensions?
Yes, to a certain extent
The USCIS allows subsequent extensions of up to 30 months for R-1 visa holders. However, a nonimmigrant religious worker cannot stay in the country for more than five years. So, if the agency grants a worker 30 months on the initial admission and then another 30 months on the extension, the worker can no longer apply for another one.
It is important to note that the USCIS only counts the time the religious worker physically spent in the U.S.
Can I apply for a new R-1 visa?
The USCIS allows nonimmigrant religious workers to apply for a new R-1 visa as long as they have been physically present outside the U.S. for the prior year. But this condition does not apply to religious workers who:
- Did not continuously reside in the U.S.
- Were seasonally or intermittently employed
- Were employed for six months or less per year
- Reside in another country and travel back and forth to the U.S. to work part time
It is important for temporary workers to know the limitations of their stay because an error could affect their chances of visa renewal or other future immigration benefits. The USCIS recommends requesting an extension before the initial admission period expires.