State Dept. Issues Final Rule on Documentation of Nonimmigrants in Religious Occupations
To comply with the Department of Homeland Security regulation requiring sponsoring employers to file petitions for all persons for whom R-1 nonimmigrant status is sought, the Department of State issued a final rule (PDF), effective October 6, 2009, that establishes a requirement that consular officers ensure that R-1 visa applicants have obtained an approved U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) before a visa can be issued.
The Department explained that USCIS has implemented the petition requirement for nonimmigrant religious workers as a way to determine the bona fides of a petitioning religious organization located in the U.S. and to determine that a religious worker will be admitted to the U.S. to work for a specific religious organization at the request of that organization.