The UK Minister of Religion visa allows you to go to the UK and work as a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order if you have a job offer.
What is the Minister of Religion visa?
The Minister of Religion visa is one of five work visa routes in the UK and is specifically intended for those who wish to work as a member of a religious order or religious missionary within a religious organization or religious order in the United Kingdom. Applicants must have a job offer and be sponsored by a sponsoring license holder.
Minister of Religion visa applicants can perform a number of different tasks, including:
- Conduct prayer and religious meetings
- Teaching or preaching religious values
- Officiate events including weddings, burials and special services
- It offers counseling to members and social support to members
- Conduct human resources activities for the purpose of coordinating the work of volunteers, including the training of preachers
- Coordinate missionary activities except clerical or administrative activities unless in a senior position
- Observe and direct the activities of other staff
- Planning missionary work
- Take responsibility for activities such as personnel management, IT, accounting or finance and;
- Interpret religious texts.
- Minister of Religion visas are generally granted for a maximum of 3 years and 1 month, and this can be extended further.
After 5 years, Minister for Religion visa holders can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and, after a further year, British citizenship.
With a Minister of Religion visa you will be able to:
- Work full time for your sponsor in the UK
- Working for a second employer (this is subject to additional rules – see below)
- Carry out volunteer activities
- Study part-time (this must not interfere with your sponsored role)
- Travel freely to and from the UK
- Bring your eligible dependent partner and your children to live with you in the UK
If an applicant intends to undertake studies in an educational organization that is not run by the religious order, you will need to apply as a student under the student visa route.
If an applicant intends to work full-time as a teacher in a school run by a religious body or missionary organization, you will need to apply as a teacher in the Skilled Worker category rather than applying for Level 2 (Minister of Religion).
Minister of Religion Visa requirements
To fulfill the eligibility requirements for a Minister of Religion visa, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have 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 license)
- Have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the role you will be carrying out in the UK
- Meet the English language requirements
- Have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK
- Have evidence of your travel history in the last 5 years before applying
- Have a clear tuberculosis test result (this only applies if you are from a listed country)
- Not own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless you earn more than £159,600 a year)
Certificate of Sponsorship requirements
To acquire a Minister of Religion visa, you will need a job offer and Certificate of Sponsorship from a religious organization with a T2 Minister of Religion Visa sponsor license. If they do not have a sponsor license, or if they don’t hold the correct type of sponsor license (e.g. if they hold a student or Skilled Worker sponsor license), they will either need to apply for a new license or change their existing license. A full list of eligible sponsor license holders can be found online 1.
Your employer in the UK will give you a Certificate of Sponsorship number. Your Certificate of Sponsorship is held online (i.e. in digital form) and contains your personal information and details regarding the role you will be performing in the UK, including confirmation:
- Of your name, the details of your job and salary, and any other remuneration
- That the job is as a Minister of Religion
- That You are qualified to do the job of a Minister of Religion
- That you are a member of the sponsor’s religious order
- That you will perform religious duties within the sponsor’s organization or as
- directed by the sponsor’s organization in the UK (which may include preaching,
- pastoral and non-pastoral work)
That your job will not involve mainly non-pastoral duties, such as school teaching, media production, domestic work or administrative and clerical work unless the role is a senior position within the sponsor’s organization
The Home Office Ministry of Religion visa guidance 2 states that applicants must receive a salary that is:
- At least that paid to settled workers in the same job, and;
- Compliant with the national minimum wage requirements in the UK.
To meet the Minister of Religion financial requirement, you will need to show that you fulfill one of the following criteria:
- Have been living in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the date of application, or;
- Have an A-rated sponsor that has stated you Certificate of Sponsorship that, if necessary, they will provide your maintenance and accommodation for the first month, or;
- Have evidence of holding £1,270 in a bank account for at least the last 28-days before applying. In addition, if you have dependents who will be joining you in the UK, you will need to show additional funds of £285 for your partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child.
English language requirements
To successfully submit a Minister of Religion visa application, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the English language requirements. This means that you:
- Can read, write, speak and understand English up to level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale and have evidence of an English language test to prove this, or;
- Have a degree taught in English or;
- Come from an exempt country: including Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, 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 United States.
Extension of the Minister of Religion visa
If your Minister of Religion visa is approved, it will be granted for a maximum initial period of 3 years and 1 month, or for the period of time indicated on your Certificate of Sponsorship (plus 14 days), whichever is the duration shorter.
You can further extend your Minister of Religion visa for another 3 years or for the duration of your sponsorship.
In total, you will be allowed to stay for a maximum of 6 years (i.e. the duration of the initial visa plus the duration of the extension).
To extend your Minister of Religion visa, you must:
- You still meet the same eligibility rules you encountered when you first applied. Therefore, you must have a job with a sponsoring license holder and meet the financial requirements described above.
- Obtain a new certificate of sponsorship from your employer that covers the extended duration of employment.
To get a Minister of Religion visa extension, you will need to:
- Fill out the online application form 3
- Provide proof of identity
- Pay the online application fee of £704 (for each person requesting the extension)
- Provide all documents requested by the Ministry of the Interior (a list will be provided to you when submitting your application).
Minister of Religion visa extension requests typically take around 8 weeks to process, however, you can continue to work in the Minister of Religion role while you await a decision from the Home Office
Minister of Region visa vs Religious Worker Visa
There are some key differences and similarities between the Minister of Religion visa and the Religious Worker visa, as follows:
|Minister of Religion visa
|Religious Worker Visa
|Type of work visa
|Long-term > 2 years
|Short-term < 2 years
|Route to permanent settlement?
|Type of work permitted
|Mainly pastoral with some non-pastoral
|Either religious or non-pastoral work
|Job offered required
|£610 (if applying outside the UK)
|£244 per person
How to request a visa from the Minister of Religion?
To apply for the Minister of Religion visa, you must follow the steps below:
- Submit an application online on the UK Government website. You must provide your personal information in English.
- Upload the required documents. You must upload electronic files of required documents when you apply online. Uploaded photos or scanned documents must be PNG, JPG, or JPEG. Scanned copies can also be PDFs.
- Pay fees as required. You must pay the application fee and health surcharge when completing the online application.
- Book an appointment at a visa application center. When you apply online you must make an appointment to provide your biometric data (fingerprints and photograph) to obtain the biometric residence permit. You can find the VAC closest to you by checking the ‘Find a Visa Application Centre’ section on GOV.UK.
- Provide additional documents. If you were asked to submit additional documents during your online application, you can upload them online or submit them when you attend your appointment at the visa application center.