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Maintaining R-1 Visa Status After Employer Change

Maintaining R-1 Visa Status After Employer Change

Tsang & Associates has recently undertaken a series of R-1 (work visa for religious persons) cases. This case is about losing a job after obtaining an R-1 visa, and the emergency change of employer was approved after a year.

For people born in mainland China who want to work in the United States, in addition to the common H-1B (professional work visa) and L-1 (multinational corporate executives/technical personnel) visas, there is also a type of work visa specially provided for religious people , namely: R-1 visa. This type of visa can also be connected with the green card road in the future: EB-4 religious immigration.

Tsang & Associates has recently undertaken a series of R-1 (work visa for religious persons) cases. This case is about losing a job after obtaining an R-1 visa. It took one year for an emergency change of employer to be approved, which is representative , Attorney Joseph Tsang Zang now summarizes the case as follows:

basic situation:

Beneficiary (religious worker): Pastor Qian used to work in a Chinese church and applied for an R-1 visa to work in a church in the United States through the lawyer team at Tsang & Associates joint law firm. But just three months after coming to the United States, the church unfortunately closed, and the beneficiary lost his job and lost his immigration status. The beneficiary found Agency D to hire him, and continued to entrust Tsang & Associates to help him keep his legal status in the United States.

Applicant (American non-profit organization): Organization D for short, a non-profit organization providing services to American churches, established in 2004, with 4 employees and limited funds available.

Application Difficulties and Keys:

There are many difficulties to overcome in this case, the main points are summarized as follows:

1. The new employer is not the church, the legitimacy of hiring beneficiaries
Organization D is not a church in the United States, but a non-profit organization that provides related services for the church. With 4 employees, why does it need to hire a pastor from China? Will you be in any position?
The Tsang & Associates team made a detailed explanation from the nature and purpose, activities, organization chart, staff positions, existing members, and volunteer status of D organization, which proved the legitimacy and rationality of D organization’s employment of Pastor Qian.

2. The new employer has no tax bill and lacks the ability to pay wages
Although institution D has a certain history, it has no tax bills and limited funds. However, the annual salary of $36,000 was given to Pastor Qian, which accounted for nearly 2/3 of the sum of the salaries of the other four employees. Why did Pastor Qian enjoy such a “high salary”? Can the D institution afford the salary?
The Tsang & Associates team combined Pastor Qian’s qualifications, organization D’s development plan, financial analysis, and asset status to prove the financial capabilities of the new employer.

3. The whole family of the beneficiary will not become a public burden in the United States
During the three months that Pastor Qian came to work in the United States, due to the difficulties of the church, he failed to pay the salary as agreed, which affected him to prove that he maintained his legal R-1 status after coming to the United States. Turning to institution D, although institution D offers an annual salary of $36,000, for a family of five, how to prove that the beneficiary’s salary can support the whole family and not become a public burden in the United States?
In response to this point, our team emphasized other benefits provided by the employer, and Pastor Qian’s own financial situation is sufficient to maintain the family’s life in the United States, and will not become a public burden on society.

4. When you lose your job, you lose your identity, and time is ticking
Both R-1 and H-1B belong to work visas, without Grace Period, once the work ends, the status in the United States will also end, and the whole family should leave the United States immediately, otherwise they will have illegal stay. Once you stay illegally for more than 180 days, you will face the problem of being barred from entering the United States for 3 years.
Moreover, Pastor Qian’s family has made preparations for long-term work in the United States. They have quit their jobs in China and made arrangements for their property. If the application for extension is not allowed, the resulting loss of opportunity cost and the problem of being barred from entering the country will be a heavy blow.

Application result:

After full and meticulous preparation, Pastor Qian’s R-1 application was finally approved after 11 months! To allow his family to continue to stay in the United States.

Lawyer Joseph Tsang commented:

The R-1 religious worker visa is not very common for Chinese applicants. This type of visa and immigration does not qualify as political asylum (Asylum) . Attorney Joseph’s basic introduction for readers is as follows:

Pursuant to U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) §101(a)(15)(R), persons wishing to enter the United States to work temporarily in religious groups are required to apply for an R visa.R-1 Visa Conditions:

Religious workers include persons appointed by prominent religious groups to conduct religious services and perform other duties (usually performed by religious clergy), as well as persons engaged in religious professions or work. To apply for a Religious Worker visa, the following criteria should be met:

• You must belong to a religious denomination that is a nonprofit religious group recognized under US law.
• Your religious denomination and its affiliates (if applicable) must be tax-exempt or have tax-exempt status.
• You must meet the following criteria:
(a) have been a member of a denomination for two years prior to applying for a religious worker visa
(b) Plan to serve as a pastor of your denomination or hold religious work in a legal nonprofit religious group (or a tax-exempt affiliate of such a group)
(c) Lived outside the United States in the year preceding the application and have previously served in the denomination for five years.

The R visa does not allow “dual intent” and requires proof that the religious worker must leave the United States after the statutory time has expired.

In addition, Attorney Joseph also has a pious religious belief and a deep understanding of the church, which is also of great help to religious workers’ visa and immigration applications.

The Trump administration has tightened immigration policies, especially targeting those who may be a public burden on American society. If the employer does not pay or has insufficient ability to pay wages, the approval will become increasingly strict, and we can provide you with professional assistance. If necessary, please contact Tsang & Associates.

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