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R-1 for a Church Music Director.

New York, NY |

I work as a Music Director in an established church which is willing to sponsor the R-1 visa/status for me. What are the chances for the approval if I don't have a degree in religion? I do have a Master's degree in music though. I need to change my status from F-1. Thank you!

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Attorney answers 4


Your chance are pretty good if its a real religious institution and a real job offer.

The R-1 Religious Worker category underwent a lot of scrutiny in the last few years due to prevalent fraud. Be forewarned and seek to retain a reputable, experienced immigration attorney. There are a few good ones in NY and you can easily see who is who here on Avvo.

Behar Intl. Counsel 619.234.5962 Kindly be advised that the answer above is only general in nature cannot be construed as legal advice, given that not enough facts are known. It is your responsibility to retain a lawyer to analyze the facts specific to your particular situation in order to give you specific advice. Specific answers will require cognizance of all pertinent facts about your case. Any answers offered on Avvo are of a general nature only, and are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship.


There are a lot of requirements that the church must fulfill before they can sponsor you for an R visa.

Please click the link at the very bottom for additional information.

Carl Shusterman, Esq.
Former INS Trial Attorney (1976-82)
Board Certified Immigration Attorney (1986 - Present)
Schedule a Legal Consultation - Telephonic, Skype or In-Person
600 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1550
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 394-4554 x0
Web: (English) (Spanish)

(213) 394-4554 x0 Mr. Shusterman is a former INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) with over 35 years of immigration experience. His response to your question is general in nature, as not all the facts are known to him. You should retain an attorney experienced in immigration law to review all the facts in your case in order to receive advice specific to your case. Mr. Shusterman's statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.


You don't need a theological degree for an R-1 status but there are many other requirements that you, the job and the church must meet. One of the many requirements is that the position must be religious work. The petition should emphasize the religious nature of music in a church context. I tend to quote the psalms which are filled with references to music as worship. All the best.

Malathi Benjamin PLC
(626) 744 1750

This is not to be regarded as legal advice which can only be properly offered after a careful assessment of your case. Please consult with an experienced immigration attorney.


How is music direct a position with religious function, vocation or occupation?

NYC EXPERIENCED IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS; email:; Phone: (866) 456-­8654; Fax: 212-964-0440; Cell: 212-202-0325. The information contained in this answer is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.

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