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Minister of Religion Visa: A Complete Guide

The Minister of Religion Visa is one of five UK work routes for religious roles, requiring a job offer and sponsorship from a licence holder. For expert help with your religious visa or immigration matters, contact our solicitors for a free phone consultation at +44 (0) 1293 522 275 or fill out our form.

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November 10, 2023

Table of Contents

What is the Minister of Religion Visa?

The Minister of Religion Visa is one of the five UK work visa routes designed for individuals seeking to serve as members of a religious order or religious missionaries within faith-based organisations or religious orders in the UK. To qualify, applicants must have a job offer and be sponsored by a licence holder.

Minister of Religion Visa applicants may engage in various duties, such as:

  • Leading prayer and religious meetings:
    • This involves guiding congregants in religious practices, rituals, and communal worship.
    • Creating and delivering sermons or spiritual teachings.
  • Teaching or preaching religious values:
    • Educating members of the faith on religious doctrines, traditions, and ethical principles.
    • Delivering lectures or lessons to promote spiritual growth and understanding.
  • Officiating events, including weddings, burials, and special services:
    • Conducting religious ceremonies and rites for significant life events.
    • Providing spiritual guidance and support during challenging times.
  • Providing counselling and welfare support to members:
    • Offering emotional and spiritual counselling to individuals facing personal or spiritual challenges.
    • Overseeing welfare programs to address the needs of the religious community.
  • Conducting HR activities, including training preachers and coordinating volunteer work:
    • Recruiting and training individuals for roles within the religious organisation.
    • Coordinating volunteer efforts and managing human resources within the faith community.
  • Coordinating missionary activities (excluding clerical or administrative tasks unless in a senior position):
    • Planning and organising outreach programs to spread the faith.
    • Assuming leadership roles in missionary initiatives.
  • Observing and directing the activities of other staff:
    • Supervising and guiding subordinate staff in carrying out their duties.
    • Ensuring the alignment of activities with the mission and values of the religious organisation.
  • Planning missionary work:
    • Developing strategic plans for expanding the religious community and outreach efforts.
    • Assessing and adapting approaches based on the needs of diverse populations.
  • Managing activities like personnel management, IT, accounts, or finance:
    • Overseeing the administrative and financial aspects of the religious organisation.
    • Ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and ethical standards.
  • Interpreting religious texts:
    • Providing interpretations and insights into sacred scriptures.
    • Teaching and clarifying the meaning of religious texts for the community.

Minister of Religion visas are typically granted for up to 3 years and 1 month, with the possibility of extension. After 5 years, visa holders can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and, after an additional year, for UK citizenship.

With a Minister of Religion visa, you can:

  • Work full-time for your sponsor in the UK
  • Work for a second employer (subject to additional rules)
  • Engage in voluntary work
  • Study part-time (without interfering with your sponsored role)
  • Travel to and from the UK freely
  • Bring your eligible dependant partner and children to live with you in the UK

Special considerations:

  • If you plan to study in an educational organisation not managed by the religious order, apply as a student under the student visa route.
  • If you intend to work full-time as a teacher in a school managed by the religious body or missionary organisation, apply as a teacher under the Skilled Worker category instead of the Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) Visa.

Minister of Religion Visa Requirements

To meet the eligibility criteria for a Minister of Religion Visa, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old:
    • Age eligibility ensures that applicants are mature and capable of fulfilling the responsibilities of a Minister of Religion.
  • Possess a job offer as a Minister of Religion from a licensed sponsor in the UK (the employer must have a T2 Minister of Religion Visa sponsor licence):
    • This requirement ensures that applicants have a formal offer from a recognised religious organisation in the UK.
  • Hold a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the role you will be undertaking in the UK:
    • The CoS serves as official documentation from your employer, specifying key details about your role and sponsorship.
  • Satisfy the English language requirements:
    • Demonstrate proficiency in English, reading, writing, speaking, and understanding at level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
  • Have adequate funds to support yourself in the UK:
    • Applicants must show financial stability to cover living expenses in the UK.
  • Provide evidence of your travel history in the last 5 years before applying:
    • Submission of travel history ensures transparency and adherence to immigration requirements.
  • Present a clear tuberculosis test result (applies only if you are from a listed country):
    • Health screening, including a tuberculosis test, is required for applicants from specific countries.
  • Not own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless your annual income exceeds £159,600):
    • This restriction aims to maintain a clear distinction between the applicant and the sponsoring organisation.

Certificate of Sponsorship Requirements

To obtain a Minister of Religion Visa, you need a job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship from a religious organisation with a T2 Minister of Religion Visa sponsor licence. If your employer does not possess a sponsor licence or holds an incorrect type of sponsor licence (e.g., a student or Skilled Worker licence), they must either apply for a new licence or modify their existing one. A comprehensive list of eligible sponsor licence holders can be found online.

Your UK employer will provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship number, which is held in digital form and contains essential information about your job, such as:

  • Your name, job details, salary, and any additional remuneration:
    • Detailed information about your employment terms and compensation.
  • Confirmation that the job is as a Minister of Religion:
    • Clear acknowledgement that your role falls under the category of a Minister of Religion.
  • Verification of your qualification for the Minister of Religion role:
    • Confirmation that you possess the necessary qualifications and credentials for the specified position.
  • Confirmation of your membership in the sponsor’s religious order:
    • A statement verifying your affiliation with the religious order associated with the sponsoring organisation.
  • Clarification that you will perform religious duties within the sponsor’s organisation or as directed by the sponsor’s organisation in the UK (including preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work):
    • Outlining the scope of your responsibilities within the religious organisation.
  • Assurance that your job will not primarily involve non-pastoral duties, such as school teaching, media production, domestic work, or administrative and clerical work unless it is a senior position within the sponsor’s organisation:
    • Ensuring that the role aligns with the expectations of a Minister of Religion.

Salary Requirements

According to the Home Office Ministry of Religion visa guidance, applicants must receive a salary that is:

  • At least equivalent to what settled workers in the same job are paid.
  • Compliant with the national minimum wage requirements in the UK.

Financial Requirements

To meet the financial requirement for the Minister of Religion, you must demonstrate that you fulfil one of the following criteria:

  • Have been living in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the application date:
    • Proving sustained residence in the UK demonstrates financial stability.
  • Have an A-rated sponsor that has indicated on your Certificate of Sponsorship their willingness to provide your maintenance and accommodation for the first month:
    • Assurance of support from the sponsoring organisation.
  • Possess evidence of holding £1,270 in a bank account for at least the last 28 days before applying:
    • Demonstrating personal financial capacity to cover initial expenses.
    Additionally, if you have dependents joining you in the UK, you must show additional funds of £285 for your partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child.

English Language Requirements

To submit a successful Minister of Religion visa application, you must demonstrate that you meet the English language requirements. This entails:

  • Reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English at level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale, with evidence of an English language test:
    • Validating language proficiency through recognised testing.
  • Holding a degree taught in English:
    • Providing an alternative qualification pathway for language proficiency.
  • Being from an exempt country:
    • Recognising citizens from specific countries as exempt from English language testing. These include Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA.

Minister of Religion Visa Extension

Upon approval of your Minister of Religion Visa, you will initially receive a grant for up to 3 years and 1 month, or the duration specified on your Certificate of Sponsorship (plus 14 days), depending on which is the shorter duration.

You have the opportunity to extend your Minister of Religion Visa for an additional 3 years or for the duration of your ongoing sponsorship.

In total, you are eligible to remain in the UK for up to 6 years, encompassing both the initial visa period and the subsequent extension.

To qualify for a Minister of Religion visa extension, you must:

  • Continue to meet the same eligibility criteria as when you first applied. This entails maintaining employment with a sponsor licence holder and fulfilling the financial requirements outlined above.
  • Secure a new Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer, covering the extended duration of your employment.

The application process for a Minister of Religion Visa Extension involves the following steps:

  1. Complete the online application form.
  2. Provide comprehensive proof of identity.
  3. Pay the requisite online application fee of £719 for each person applying for an extension.
  4. Submit any documents requested by the Home Office, as indicated in the list provided during the application process.

Minister of Religion Visa extension applications typically undergo an 8-week processing period. However, it’s important to note that you can continue your role as a Minister of Religion during the waiting period for a decision from the Home Office.

Minister of Religion Visa vs Religious Worker Visa: Key Distinctions and Commonalities

When comparing the Minister of Religion Visa to the Religious Worker Visa, several noteworthy differences and similarities emerge:


Minister of Religion Visa:

  • Type of Work Visa: Long-term, exceeding 2 years.
  • Route to Permanent Settlement: Yes.
  • Type of Work Permitted: Primarily pastoral with some non-pastoral aspects.
  • Job Offer Required: Yes.
  • Sponsorship Required: Yes.
  • Financial Requirement: £1,270.
  • Application Fee: £719 (if applying outside the UK).

Religious Worker Visa:

  • Type of Work Visa: Short-term, less than 2 years.
  • Route to Permanent Settlement: No.
  • Type of Work Permitted: This can involve either religious or non-pastoral work.
  • Job Offer Required: Yes.
  • Sponsorship Required: Yes.
  • Financial Requirement: £1,270.
  • Application Fee: £298 per person.

Additional Detail:

  1. Type of Work Visa:
    • Minister of Religion Visa: Designed for long-term commitments exceeding 2 years.
    • Religious Worker Visa: Geared toward short-term engagements lasting less than 2 years.
  2. Route to Permanent Settlement:
    • Minister of Religion Visa: Offers a pathway to permanent settlement.
    • Religious Worker Visa: This does not provide a route to permanent settlement.
  3. Type of Work Permitted:
    • Minister of Religion Visa: Mainly pastoral work with the inclusion of some non-pastoral responsibilities.
    • Religious Worker Visa: Allows for involvement in either religious or non-pastoral tasks.
  4. Application Fee:
    • Minister of Religion Visa: £719 (if applying outside the UK).
    • Religious Worker Visa: £298 per person.

Both visas require a job offer, sponsorship, and adherence to a financial requirement of £1,270. While the Minister of Religion visa is focused on long-term pastoral commitments with the potential for permanent settlement, the Religious Worker visa caters to shorter-term engagements. It does not provide a route to settle permanently in the UK.

Minister of Religion Visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

The Minister of Religion Visa offers a direct pathway to permanent settlement, known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), in the UK. Acquiring ILR brings substantial advantages, including the elimination of the need for further visa applications, increased flexibility in employment and study choices, and exemption from the costly immigration healthcare surcharge.

To fulfil the requirements for ILR, you must:

  1. Have completed the 5-year continuous residence period in the UK on a Minister of Religion visa:
    • This period may also include time spent on other visas, such as Tier 1 (excluding the ICT Graduate Trainee visa), Skilled Worker (formerly Tier 2), Innovator, or Representative of an overseas business visa.
  2. Pass the Life in the UK test:
    • Successfully passing this test demonstrates your understanding of British society, culture, and history.
  3. Meet the English language requirements:
    • This can be achieved by possessing an English language qualification at B1, B2, C1, or C2 level or holding a degree taught or researched in English.
  4. Provide evidence of ongoing sponsorship by your employer and continued compliance with sponsorship requirements:
    • This ensures that you are still supported by your employer and that you continue to meet the criteria for sponsorship.

The transition from a Minister of Religion visa to ILR not only grants permanent settlement but also liberates individuals from the constraints of further visa applications. Additionally, ILR affords greater flexibility in pursuing employment and educational opportunities, all while exempting individuals from the financial burdens associated with the immigration healthcare surcharge.

Dependants of a Minister of Religion Visa Holder

As a holder of a Minister of Religion visa, you have the option to bring your partner and dependent children to the UK with you. Each family member is required to submit a separate online application before their intended travel to the UK.

Eligible dependants encompass:

  • Your husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner:
    • This category includes individuals with whom you share a legal or committed relationship, whether through marriage, civil partnership, or as an unmarried partner.
  • Your child under 18:
    • Dependent children below the age of 18 are eligible for inclusion in your visa application.
  • Your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant:
    • If your child is already in the UK as your dependant and has reached the age of 18, they remain eligible to continue under your visa sponsorship.

The term “dependant” implies that your child is not leading a separate, financially independent life unless they are attending a boarding school or living away at university.

The visa granted to your dependants will be valid for the same duration as your own visa. This means that all family members covered under your application will share the same expiry date.

Minister of Religion Visa FAQs

  • What is the validity period of a Minister of Religion Visa?
    • Minister of Religion visas typically span 3 years and 1 month or the timeframe specified in the Certificate of Sponsorship. An extension of an additional 3 years is possible, allowing a maximum stay of 6 years. After this period, visa holders become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
  • What are the associated costs for a UK Minister of Religion Visa?
  • Main Applicant Fee:
    • Inside the UK: £827
    • Outside the UK: £719
  • Each Dependant Fee:
    • Inside the UK: £827
    • Outside the UK: £719
  • Biometric Fee:
    • Inside the UK: £19.20
    • Outside the UK: Not Applicable
  • Healthcare Surcharge:
    • For individuals 18 years or over:
      • Inside the UK: £624 per year
      • Outside the UK: Not Applicable
    • For individuals under 18 years:
      • Inside the UK: £470 per year
      • Outside the UK: Not Applicable
  • Support Funds Requirement:
    • Minimum £1,270 in a bank account for the last 28 days before applying.
    • For dependants in the UK:
      • £285 for your partner
      • £315 for one child
      • £200 for each additional child
  • Am I permitted to engage in a secondary job while on a Minister of Religion Visa?
    • Yes, a secondary job is allowed under certain conditions:
      • It must not exceed 20 hours per week.
      • The job should align with the same profession as your primary role or be a profession listed on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list.
      • Voluntary work is permissible, even if unpaid.
  • Can I switch to another UK visa from the Minister of Religion Visa?

Opting for a switch enables you to remain in the UK during the application process, eliminating the need to depart and apply from abroad.

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