R-1 visas are issued to people who enter the U.S. temporarily to work as ministers or in another religious vocation. They need to be employed by non-profit religious organizations that meet certain requirements, including being affiliated to a religious denomination the United States.
R-1 temporary workers who want to become permanent residents of the U.S. need to apply for the EB-4 visa. While the R-1 visa is a temporary visa, the EB-4 visa allows its holder to work in the U.S. permanently.
The eligibility for both visa categories is similar, except that the EB-4 visa requires the applicant to have 2 years of work experience. This is why many choose to enter the U.S. on an R-1 visa, get the work experience and then apply for the EB-4 visa.
The process for getting an EB-4 visa:
A qualifying R-1 visa holder needs to be petitioned by his current employer or another employer. Also, eligible applicants may be able to self-petition. Once the petition has been approved, the beneficiary needs to apply to adjust status to that of a permanent resident.
It is to be noted that it is not mandatory to first apply for an R-1 visa to be able to apply for an EB-4 visa. The advantage of this process is that, getting an R-1 visa and entering the U.S. and then following the procedures to get a green card may be faster in some cases. People abroad who already have 2 years of religious work experience may directly follow the procedure to apply for a green card under the special immigrant religious worker category.
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Immigration law can be complicated and this article does not exhaust all
the circumstances surrounding the R-1 and EB-4 visas. These issues can
be extremely complex, and a single misstep could potentially lead to a
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