The Minister of Religion category is for religious workers who have been offered employment within religious organisations in the UK. The route enables workers who will be undertaking mainly pastoral work to travel to / remain in the UK. The migrant does not necessarily need to be a qualified minister as missionaries and members of religious orders are also able to benefit from the category.

Who can apply?

The route is for qualified ministers, missionaries and members of religious orders. The worker must be relocating to the UK in order to undertake mainly pastoral / preaching work, although the individual can also undertake some non-pastoral work. Preaching / pastoral work includes, but is not limited to, leading worship, leading at marriages and funerals and offering counselling and welfare support to members of the organisation.

What are the eligibility requirements?

The individual must receive an offer of employment from a religious organisation that holds a sponsor licence. As long as the employment satisfies strict conditions contained in the Immigration Rules, the religious organisation will need to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the individual.
The individual must demonstrate an ability to communicate in English to Level B2 CEFR. They must also demonstrate access to sufficient funds to cover their (and their family's) living expenses, unless their maintenance has been certified by their employer.

The individual must be of good character and will need to demonstrate that the general grounds for refusal don't apply to them (the general grounds for refusal can result in an application being refused if, for example, the Applicant has a criminal conviction, has relied on false documents/information, or has deceived the Home Office). The individual must also satisfy the Entry Clearance Officer that they genuinely intend to undertake the proposed role in the UK; that they are capable of undertaking the role; and that they do not propose to undertake employment except as a religious worker.

Extending your visa

Applicants present in the UK as Minister of Religion migrants are usually able to extend their leave to remain up to a maximum period of 6 years. The route leads to settlement, usually after spending a continuous and lawful period of 5 years inside the UK.

Documents you must provide

Documents to confirm your identity should accompany the application, together with specified evidence that the financial and English language requirements can be satisfied. The individual will need to provide the Home Office / Entry Clearance Officer with their CoS reference number, and Latitude Law would also advise that documents relating to past experience / relevant education accompany an application in order to demonstrate that the individual is able to undertake the proposed role. In certain circumstances, an individual may need to provide evidence that they have undergone screening for active pulmonary tuberculosis and that such tuberculosis is not present.

How we can help...

Latitude Law can assist individuals with their Minister of Religion applications by providing comprehensive advice about the requirements, and we can also prepare the entire application which will be accompanied by detailed representations explaining how relevant Immigration Rules are met. Latitude Law can also assist religious organisations with securing a sponsor licence to enable them to sponsor religious workers under the Minister of Religion category and can assist sponsors with any queries they have with existing / proposed workers. Religious organisations who hold a sponsor licence are subject to various duties and it is important that they are fully aware of the requirements that apply to individuals under the Minister of Religion category and their duties as a sponsor.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.