We have covered in previous articles the steps involved in applying for an R1 American visa. The basic requirements include specific documentation from the sponsoring religious body (church or other institution) where the applicant will be employed for the duration of his stay.
These include determination letters from the IRS establishing that they are a bona fide non-profit religious organization recognized as tax-exempt; documents showing the religious worker will be compensated for work done in cash or kind; and other ancillary documents where applicable such as tax returns, etc.
We also stated that the applicant himself must provide certain requirements as well on his own end. These include filling out a Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form; having a valid travel passport; paying the necessary visa application fees and visa issuance fees where applicable.
Who can File a Petition?
Generally, A U.S. employer (which in this case is a religious organization) may file this form and applicable supplements to classify an alien in any nonimmigrant classification listed (See Part 1. or Part 2 of the Instructions for Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, USCIS Form I-129 https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-129instr.pdf)
Why a Cover Letter?
The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to an organization. In this case, it is used to introduce the petitioner to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and provide a breakdown of all relevant documents accompanying the letter and petition (Form I-129).
Note: Form I-129 is a separate form from the cover letter, which should be FILLED IN by the petitioner with the necessary information. This form is used by an employer to petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an alien beneficiary to come temporarily to the United States as a nonimmigrant to perform services or labor, or to receive training. Form I-129 consists of the: 1. Basic petition; 2. Individual supplements relating to specific classifications; and 3. H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement (required for H-1B and H-1B1 classifications only)
What Should the Cover Letter Include?
- The cover letter should be dated.
- If written by a representing attorney, the letter should be written on the appropriate letterhead.
- It should be addressed to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and attention the I-129 Division.
- It should be properly headed RE: PETITION FOR _____
- The petitioner’s name and Beneficiary’s name (i.e the religious worker) should also be clearly identified.
- A list of the necessary enclosed documents should be listed: The Form I-129. Evidence of the institution’s tax-exempt status. If the religious worker i.e the Beneficiary, will be working as a minister, a copy of the religious worker’s certificate of ordination or similar documents must be provided. Also needed are documents showing acceptance of the religious worker’s qualification as a minister in the religious denomination, as well as evidence that he or she completed any course of prescribed theological education at an accredited theological institution normally required or recognized by that religious denomination. If the denomination doesn’t require academic qualifications, they must provide their requirements to be ordained as a minister and show a list of duties performed by same. Evidence of payment of necessary fees.
An example of a cover letter is as follows:
John Doe, Esq.
John Doe & Co.,
123 Sycamoure Avenue, Townsville, FL.
(555) 3678198; FAX: (555) 0910910
May 30, 2018
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services California Service Center,
Attention: I-129 Unit,
P.O. Box 123, PA 12345-1234.
RE: PETITION for R-1 NONIMIGRANT RELIGIOUS WORKER
Petitioner: Rev. James Smith, Rev-in-Charge, Latterhouse Ecumenical Bible Centre.
Beneficiary: Mr. Abel Bean.
The above subject matter refers. I am the attorney for the petitioner and beneficiary in the above matter. Please find Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney, attached and enter my appearance in this matter.
The following applications and documentation have been enclosed:
- Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), with R Classification Supplement, and a check in the amount of $320.00;
- Petitioner’s Letter in support of R-1 visa petition describing Beneficiary’s religious affiliation, qualifications, duties, and remuneration;
- Letter from the State of Colorado Franchise Tax Board recognizing tax exempt status of Latterhouse Ecumenical Bible Centre;
- Supporting letter from Reverend George Doe of the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria, confirming Beneficiary’s ordination as a full-time Minister of the Lutheran Church, and also outlining his duties and remuneration, and relation of the Latterhouse Ecumenical Centre to the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria.
- Supporting letter from Reverend George Doe of the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria, confirming Beneficiary’s position as Secretary as well prior position of Assistant Secretary of the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria, Abuja Diocese,
- Ordination Certificate of the Beneficiary as a full-time minister of the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria.
- Copy of Beneficiary’s Certificate from Theological College of Northern Nigeria;
- A copy of the Beneficiary’s birth certificate;
- Copy of Beneficiary’s Passport Identification page.
We urgently entreat your speedy processing of this petition so as to enable the Beneficiary’s arrival in the United States at the soonest possible time to resume his duties as his presence is urgently needed for the smooth running of the official activities of the Petitioning body’s calendar year, which have already started.
Please contact me immediately if there are omissions or other required information not already included in this conveyance. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance.
John Doe, Esq.