Much like applicants in the Skilled Worker route are sponsored by businesses who hold valid sponsor licences, the new T2 Minister of Religion Visa route enables applicants aged 18 or over to be sponsored as ministers of religion by a religious organisation which has charitable status (or by the Ministry of Defence). This route replaced the previous Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) route.
Minister of Religion Visa: Requirements for Sponsoring Religious Organisations
In addition to holding charitable status (or being the MOD), in order to qualify for a T2 Minister of Religion sponsor licence, the religious organisation seeking to sponsor a minister of religion must show that it:
- is the structure for a faith-based community with a shared
system of belief and spiritual goals, codes of behaviour and
religious practice, which exists to support and/or propagate common
beliefs and practices and where the shared beliefs:
- include any religious belief or similar philosophical belief in something transcendental, metaphysical or ultimate;
- exclude any philosophical or political belief concerned with man, unless that belief is similar to religious belief;
- does not exclude anyone from the community on the basis of gender, nationality or ethnicity;
- receives financial and material support for the core religious ministry from the congregation or community on a voluntary basis, without promise or coercion;
- does not breach, or encourage others to breach, any UK legislation;
- does not work against the public interest, or have a detrimental effect on personal or family life as commonly understood in the UK.
T2 Minister of Religion Sponsor Licence Application: Evidence Required
When applying for a T2 Minister of Religions sponsor licence, religious organisations must give details of the faith/religion they belong to, and provide evidence of:
- if they are part of a larger organisation, details of the parent organisation and how they are connected to them;
- a hierarchy chart that shows where they are in that hierarchy;
- the size of the adult congregation;
- the number of clergy they currently employ;
- addresses of their regular meeting places;
- their scheduled days and hours of worship;
- a copy of 'Form 76' from the General Register Office giving authorisation for the use of a building as a place of worship;
- a copy of 'Form 78' from the General Register Office giving authorisation for marriages to be performed at a place of worship.
Much like Sponsor Licence applications for Skilled Workers, organisations applying for a T2 Minister of Religion licence must inform the Home Office why they are applying for the licence and provide evidence of the jobs they wish to fill. The genuineness of the roles and applications will be assessed, but there is no longer a resident labour test (or equivalent) for the T2 Minister of Religion route.
Sponsor Duties for Religious Organisations
The Sponsor duties for religious organisations are also similar to the Skilled Worker route - the religious organisation must keep good records in relation to a migrant's immigration status, maintaining contact details, record keeping and recruitment practices, etc. Essentially, a T2 Minister of Religion sponsor has duties as they are in a position of trust, and even though there is no RLMT to be run, details of how a migrant is engaged and sponsored must still be kept.
Alternative Immigration Routes for Religious Workers
Where religious organisations wish to engage the services of migrants in non-pastoral roles, there is a temporary work visa for Religious Work, but this cannot be used by Ministers of Religion. The temporary work route is only for non-pastoral roles, and has a maximum duration of two years.
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.