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Chapter 6 - Admissions, Extensions of Stay, and Changes of Status

A. Admission

If approved for nonimmigrant religious worker (R-1) classification and found otherwise admissible, a beneficiary may be admitted as an R-1 nonimmigrant for an initial period of up to 30 months from the date of initial admission.[1]

Maintaining Status

A religious worker may only work per the terms of the approved petition. While holding R-1 status, nonimmigrants may not work in the United States in any other capacity but as a religious worker, and cannot change capacities between a minister or other types of religious worker unless specifically approved.[2] An R-1 nonimmigrant may be considered to have violated his or her nonimmigrant status, and therefore not be in lawful immigration status, if he or she works for an employer who has not obtained prior approval of such employment through the filing of a petition and appropriate supplement, supporting documents, and appropriate fees.[3]

B. Extension of Stay

An employer may request an extension of stay for an R-1 nonimmigrant on the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129).[4] The extension may be for the validity period of the extension request, up to 30 months, for a maximum period of stay for up to 5 years.[5]

The petitioner must include the following with the Form I-129:

  • R-1 Classification Supplement, including the R-1 Employer Attestation;

  • Supporting documents to establish eligibility under the R-1 nonimmigrant classification, including documentation of salaried or non-salaried compensation; and

  • Initial evidence of the previous R-1 employment, such as financial or other records to establish that the person worked as an R-1 nonimmigrant.[6]

1. Compensation Documentation[7]

Salaried Compensation

Any request for an extension of stay as an R-1 nonimmigrant must include initial evidence of the previous employment as a religious worker. If the beneficiary received salaried compensation, then the petitioner must submit Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documentation of salaried compensation, such as an IRS Form W-2 or certified copies of filed income tax returns, reflecting such work and compensation for the preceding 2 years.[8]

If the beneficiary was admitted for less than 2 years in the R-1 nonimmigrant status, the petitioner may provide evidence of work and compensation in that status for the duration of the beneficiary’s authorized admission.[9]

Non-Salaried Compensation

If the beneficiary is requesting an extension of stay as an R-1 nonimmigrant and previously received non-salaried compensation, the petitioner must submit IRS documentation of the non-salaried compensation if available.[10] If no IRS documentation is available, the petitioner must explain the lack of IRS documentation and submit verifiable evidence of all financial support, including information on:[11]

  • Stipends;

  • Room and board;

  • Other support for the beneficiary along with a description of the location where the beneficiary lived (for example, a lease for the beneficiary); or

  • Other evidence acceptable to USCIS.

Self-Support[12]

If the beneficiary is applying for an extension of stay as an R-1 nonimmigrant and was previously supporting him or herself financially and not receiving any compensation from the religious organization, the petitioner must provide verifiable documents to show how the beneficiary is self-supporting. Documentation may include:

  • Audited financial statements;

  • Financial institution records;

  • Brokerage account statements;

  • Trust documents signed by an attorney; or

  • Other evidence acceptable to USCIS.

The table below summarizes the evidence required depending on the type of compensation.

Extension of Stay Requests: Evidence of Beneficiary’s Compensation

Beneficiary’s Previous Compensation

Required Evidence

Salary

  • The petitioner must submit IRS documentation showing that the beneficiary received a salary, such as an IRS Form W-2 or certified copies of filed income tax returns reflecting such work and compensation for the preceding 2 years or the period of stay if less than 2 years.

Non-Salary

  • If IRS documentation is available, the petitioner must submit IRS documentation of the non-salaried compensation.

  • If IRS documentation is not available, the petitioner must explain the lack of IRS documentation and submit verifiable evidence of all financial support, such as stipends, room and board, or other support for the beneficiary along with a description of the location where the beneficiary lived, or a lease for the beneficiary. The petitioner may also submit other evidence acceptable to USCIS.

No Salary, But Provided Own Support

  • Provide verifiable documents to show how support was maintained, such as audited financial statements, financial institution records, brokerage account statements, trust documents signed by an attorney, or other evidence acceptable to USCIS.

2. Requests for Evidence

With regard to a beneficiary’s eligibility for an extension of stay, an officer may issue a request for evidence (RFE) to the petitioner if it appears that the beneficiary has not maintained his or her status due to the following reasons:

  • Termination – USCIS has been notified that the beneficiary was terminated from the employment before the expiration of a period of authorized R-1 stay;

  • Released from Employment – USCIS has been notified that the beneficiary has been released from employment before the expiration of a period of authorized R-1 stay; or

  • Worked Less Than Required Hours – USCIS has been notified that the beneficiary is working less than the required number of hours for the employment.[13]

C. Change of Status

Generally, a beneficiary in a current valid nonimmigrant status who has not violated his or her status is eligible to change status to an R-1 nonimmigrant in the United States without having to return to his or her home country for a visa interview.[14] Such a beneficiary may be granted R-1 status for an initial period of up to 30 months.[15]

To change nonimmigrant statuses, the petitioning employer should file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) before the beneficiary’s current status expires and indicate the request is for a change of status. The beneficiary cannot work in the new R-1 nonimmigrant classification until USCIS approves the petition and the change of status request. If USCIS determines that the beneficiary is eligible for R-1 nonimmigrant, but not a change of status, the beneficiary must apply for an R-1 nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consular post abroad and then be readmitted to the United States as an R-1 nonimmigrant.[16]

D. Change of Employer

USCIS considers any unauthorized change to a new employer a failure to maintain status. If the R-1 nonimmigrant is to be employed by a different or additional unit of the religious denomination (if it has a different federal tax number), the employer must file a new Form I-129. Such a circumstance would be considered new employment.

However, an example of a permissible employment location change that would not require a new petition would be a petition filed on behalf of a minister who moves from ministry to ministry within a denomination so long as the organization that oversees all of these locations is the petitioner for that minister.[17]

Footnotes


1. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(4).

2. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(1)(v) and 8 CFR 214.2(r)(2). See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(18)(iii)(A)(1).

3. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(13).

4. [^] See 8 CFR 214.1(c)(1). Where a petitioner demonstrates eligibility for a requested extension, it may be granted at USCIS’ discretion. Petitioners may not appeal denials of an application for extension of stay. See 8 CFR 214.1(c)(5).

5. [^] For more information on maximum allowable time in R-1 nonimmigrant status, see Chapter 7, Period of Stay [2 USCIS-PM O.7].

6. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(5). See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(12).

7. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(11) and 8 CFR 214.2(r)(12)(i).

8. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(12)(i).

9. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(12).

10. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(12)(ii).

11. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(12)(ii).

12. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(12)(iii).

13. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(14).

14. [^] An example of a violation of status is if, generally, the nonimmigrant’s current status expires before seeking extension of status by filing a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) with USCIS or by working without valid employment authorization.

15. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(4).

16. [^] There is no appeal from a change of status denial. See 8 CFR 248.3(g).

17. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(7). See 8 CFR 214.2(r)(13).

Resources

Legal Authorities

8 CFR 214.2(r) - Religious workers

INA 101(a)(15)(R) - Definition of R nonimmigrant classification

INA 214(c) - Admission of nonimmigrants

Appendices

No appendices available at this time.

Updates

POLICY ALERT - Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule, published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2020. This guidance becomes effective October 2, 2020. For information regarding implementation, see our litigation summary.

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Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapters 1, 3.4, 10.2, 10.3(a), 10.3(c), 10.3(e), 10.3(i), 10.4, 10.22, 11.1(c), 13, 14, 17, 23.8, 31.7, 33.10, 34.5, 35, 41.6, 42, 44, 56.1, 56.3, 56.4, 62, 81, 82, 83.1, 83.2, and 83.3 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

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