St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Discusses R-1 Visa Holders Changing Jobs

The Board of Immigration Appeals recently handed down an unpublished opinion in which it held that a religious pastor from Guyana was inadmissible because his employment with his sponsoring church had ended while he was outside of the country.

In this case, the man from Guyana began working for a church in Maryland.  The church sponsored him for an R-1 religious visa and the visa was approved.  After some time, the relationship between the pastor and the church deteriorated.  The pastor tendered his resignation, effective Marh 9, 2008.  He then left the U.S. without having a new R-1 visa on file and without having a new job with a potential R-1 sponsor lined up.  This proved a crucial error.

When he returned to the U.S., deportation proceedings began and the immigration judge decided that he was inadmissible as he had no R-1 employer.  She ordered him removed.  On appeal, the pastor argued that because he was looking for an R-1 eligible job, he should be allowed to enter.  The Board rejected this argument as “immaterial.”

The Board also said it was “immaterial” that his prior R-1 visa had not been formally revoked before the pastor attempted to reenter the U.S.

If you have questions about the R-1 religious visa or how churches can sponsor leaders for a visa, please give us a call at (314) 961-8200 or email us at [email protected]