Overview of the Religious Worker Visa
The Religious Worker visa is open to people who wish to apply to practise in a non-pastoral role while living and working in the UK for up to 24 months. It is one of the UK’s temporary work visas.
To be eligible for a Religious Worker visa you need to:
- Have a valid certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor
- Have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK (at least £1,270)
- Be 18 or over when you apply
You can apply for this visa up to 3 months before the start date of your job. Once your visa is granted, you can then enter the UK up to 14 days before the start date.
- Overview of the Religious Worker Visa
- What is the Eligibility Criteria?
- What Are the Requirements for the Certificate of Sponsorship?
- What Are the Financial Requirements?
- How Do I Apply?
- What Are the Required Documents?
- What Are the Fees and Processing Times?
- What Are the Requirements for Dependents?
- What Are the Financial Requirements for Dependents?
- How Can Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Help You?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Eligibility Criteria?
In addition to the eligibility criteria mentioned above, religious workers must do specific jobs relating to their sponsor organisation’s work in order to be eligible for this visa. You must be coming to work temporarily in the UK as one of the following:
- A religious worker undertaking supporting activities, without leading a congregation in performing rites, rituals and preaching the essentials of the creed (if this applies to you, you should instead apply for the T2 Minister of Religion visa)
- A visiting religious worker who:
- Is employed outside the UK doing the same work as you wish to come to do in the UK (though the exact detail of your duties in the UK may be different)
- Has ongoing employment, and the time spent in the UK is consistent with your employment
- A member of a religious order, such as a monastic community of monks, nuns, or other similar religious communities
Note also that you cannot apply for this visa if you were granted either a Religious Worker or Charity Worker visa in the past year, unless you can prove that you were outside the UK for the whole of that time.
What Are the Requirements for the Certificate of Sponsorship?
A key requirement of the Religious Worker is needing to have a valid certificate of sponsorship (CoS) from an eligible employer in the UK.
A CoS is a unique reference number that contains details about you and the job you’ll be doing.
There are a number of things that a CoS for a Religious Worker visa position must confirm. These include the following:
- That the role involves performing religious duties within, or directed by your sponsor’s organisation, to support the activities of the religious institution
- That your religious duties don’t entail work that falls under the responsibility of a Minister of Religion (i.e. the you mustn’t have core duties of leading a congregation in performing the rites and rituals of the faith and in preaching the essentials of the creed)
- Whether you’re a member of your sponsor’s order, if your sponsor is a religious order
- That you will receive pay and conditions at least equal to those given to settled workers in the same role; and
- That the pay is consistent with, with or is exempt from, the National Minimum Wage; and
- That your sponsor has met resident labour consideration requirements, including one of the following:
- The role you’ll be doing is surplus to requirements and thus will not be filling a vacant position that could otherwise be filled by a settled worker
- The role you’ll be doing involves living mainly within and being a member of a religious order, which is a lineage of communities or of people who live in some way set apart from society in line with their specific religious devotion, such as an order of nuns or monks
- The sponsor holds national records of all available individuals, and the details of those records confirms that the records show that no suitable settled worker is available to fill the role
- A national recruitment search was undertaken
What Are the Financial Requirements?
In order to be eligible for this visa, you must prove that you have at least £1,270 in your bank account at the time of application.
You must have had the money for at least 28 days in a row, with day 28 being within 31 days of the date of application.
You will need to show documentary proof of this when you apply, unless either of the following apply to you:
- You’ve already been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months
- Your sponsor can cover your costs during your first month in the UK
If your sponsor can cover your costs, this must be stated in your certificate of sponsorship. They can cover up to £1,270 for you.
Making sure that you fulfil the necessary financial requirements for this visa route is essential. If you require any additional assistance with this requirement, or any other part of the visa applications process, Newcastle Immigration Lawyers are here to help. Call us on 0330 127 7487 or contact us online today.
How Do I Apply?
All applications must be made online through the gov.uk website. Note that if you’re already inside the UK, you can only apply to extend your existing visa.
As part of the application process, you’ll have to give a range of personal information about yourself and your job, including your CoS reference number.
You may also have to attend an appointment at a local visa application centre in order to give your biometrics information.
If you need to change something in your application after you have sent it off for consideration, contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
You are able to cancel your application for whatever reason. You will only get refunded if UKVI has not started processing your application yet.
You will get an email with the outcome of your application, which will include information on your next steps.
What Are the Required Documents?
The documents that visiting religious workers must provide include (but may not be limited) to the following:
- Certificate of sponsorship with reference number which can only be provided by your sponsor (your certificate of sponsorship is valid for 3 months from the date it is assigned to you)
- A valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality
- Evidence that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK, such as bank statements (unless your CoS confirms that your employer can support you instead)
- Proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’re applying with you
- Tuberculosis (TB) test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
You will need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not printed in English or Welsh.
Note that you may also have to provide additional documents, depending on your circumstances.
What Are the Fees and Processing Times?
The costs associated with a Religious Worker visa are as follows.
You will need to pay:
- The application fee (£259)
- The healthcare surcharge (£624) per year
- Prove your financial security by having at least £1,270 in your account for at least 28 days. This is to prove you are able to financially support yourself.
All family members included in your visa application will be required to pay the application and healthcare surcharge fees.
Once you’ve submitted your application, provided your supporting documents and proved your identity, it will normally take within 3 weeks for your application to be processed.
If you’re applying to extend your visa from within the UK, it will normally take within 8 weeks.
You may be eligible to take advantage of priority or super priority visa services if you need your application processed quicker. Note that these services may not always be available for all locations, however.
What Are the Requirements for Dependents?
The Religious Worker visa allows you to bring their dependent relatives to the UK as long as they meet the relationship and financial requirements. They will be listed as dependents.
Each family member will need to complete a separate application and pay the visa fees. They must apply before they travel to the UK.
They will also need your application number, which you will receive when you apply for your Religious Worker visa.
A dependant is someone who is:
- A spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner
- A child under 18
- A child over 18 if they are currently in the UK as your dependant
You will need to prove the relationship of any dependants you have listed as included in your Religious Worker visa application.
- Providing marriage certificates for spouses or evidence to support the grounds for a real relationship for unmarried partners, such as proof you have been living together for over 2 years
- Providing birth certificates for children
If your child is 16 or over, they must:
- Live with you (unless they are at boarding school, college, or university)
- Be unmarried and have no children
- Be financially supported by you
What Are the Financial Requirements for Dependents?
Your partner and/or children must have a sufficient amount of money available to support themselves while they are staying in the UK.
Your partner or child will individually need:
- £285 (for your partner)
- £315 (for a single child)
- £200 (for each additional child)
Your employer may offer to cover your family’s costs during your first month in the UK – this must be confirmed on your certificate of sponsorship and by your sponsor.
Your partner or child will need to have had the money available for at least 28 days in a row.
Day 28 must be within 31 days of the date you or they apply for this visa. You will usually need to show proof of this when they apply.
How Can Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Help You?
The Religious Worker visa is one of many temporary worker visas that the UK government issues, in addition to its long-term work visas.
If you’re looking to come to the UK on a Religious Worker visa or through any other visa route, Newcastle Immigration Lawyers can help.
Our team of specialist legal professionals have extensive experience helping foreign workers come to the UK to work, including those looking to apply through the Religious Worker route. Whether you need assistance with gathering documentary evidence for your application, helping your dependents apply for a visa, or simply unsure about the next steps to take after your visa has been processed, we can help.
Our professional solicitors can also provide support in getting an appropriate sponsorship licence and sponsors, as well as guidance with supporting application documents in a timely and efficient manner. This includes if you’re an employer and need to apply for a T2 Minister of Religion visa sponsor licence.
Last modified on March 21st, 2023 at 10:35 am
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can extend your Temporary Work Religious Worker visa.
In order to extend your visa, you must still comply with all the eligibility criteria as when you first applied for the visa.
Note that if you want to change your job within the same organisation or move to a new organisation, you must apply for this visa again.
You must also apply for your visa extension before your current visa expires.
You can apply to extend your stay in the UK up to a maximum of 24 months, or the time on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.
Yes, the Religious Worker visa allows you to work a second job in addition to your primary job listed on your certificate of sponsorship. This second job must be:
- In the same sector at the same level as your main job for up to 20 hours per week outside the hours of your main job, or
- Be on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list for up to 20 hours per week outside the hours of your main job
In addition, you will be able to study in the UK without restriction while on this visa. Note that some courses may require you to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate.
No. You will not be able to access public funds in the UK while on a Religious Worker visa, such as taking advantage of state benefits. You will only be able to access UK public funds if you obtain settled status such as through indefinite leave to remain or through the EU Settlement Scheme.
Note that the Religious Worker visa is not an eligible route to permanent settlement.