What is a Minister of Religion Visa?
This T2 Visa category is for those who are eligible to come to the UK to perform some types of religious ministry work. In most cases, this work must be considered a ‘key leading role’ within the faith-based organisation or religious order.
This category has replaced the Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa. There have been a number of changes to the UK’s immigration system since leaving the European Union.
People who are eligible for this category include people who have been formally offered a job within a valid faith community in the UK. This role could include minister of religion, missionary, or member of a religious order.
As with all visa categories, you must demonstrate fully how you meet the eligibility criteria, by completing a comprehensive application form and submitting documentary evidence to show why your application should be granted.
How to apply for the Minister of Religion Visa
To apply for a visa, you must receive a formal job offer from a licensed sponsor to live and work in the UK.
Your sponsor will complete the necessary checks and will issue you with a certificate of sponsorship if you meet the eligibility criteria. This is a unique identifier that you submit as part of your application.
The application process takes place online at this Gov.uk visa application page. You will also be required to attend a visa application centre to provide evidence of your identity and give your biometric information (fingerprints and facial photograph).
You can submit your application no earlier than three months in advance of the date you start work. If applying from outside the UK, you are likely to receive a decision on your application within three weeks.
Depending on where you apply, the application fee will depend on where you submit your application. If you are applying outside the UK for yourself, it will cost £610, while an application for any or all of your dependents will be £610 per person.
If applying from within the UK (i.e., switching or extending), there is a cost of £704 for you, and £704 each for any or all dependents.
There is also an immigration healthcare surcharge that is a requirement. Check on the Gov.uk website how much you should pay for the healthcare surcharge fee.
You should note that there are minimum financial requirements that you must prove before submitting this visa application.
What are the requirements of the Minister of Religion Visa?
Under the UK’s new points-based immigration system, it is necessary to obtain a number of points to give yourself the best chance of a successful application. As with other long-term Skilled Worker Visas, you must obtain 70 points under the new system.
English language requirement
It is a requirement of the application that you have 10 points under the English language level requirement. If you are a national of a majority English-speaking country, hold a university degree that was taught through English, or you have an approved English language test, you should provide evidence of the relevant point.
Applicants will need to receive 10 points under this section. You can provide bank statements showing evidence of your finances. You should have a minimum of at least £945 in your account at all times in the last 3 months prior to the application date.
Alternatively, some types of sponsors can provide a guarantee that they will offer consistent maintenance and accommodation for at least the first month of employment.
For any dependents included on the application, there is an additional requirement to show a minimum of £630 for each person.
It is necessary to submit evidence of your eligibility. Some of the following documents may be submitted as part of your application:
- Certificate of sponsorship number issued by your sponsor
- Evidence of your English language abilities
- Proof of your ability to maintain yourself financially in the UK
- Valid passport or travel document
- Tuberculosis test results (where relevant)
- Old passports or travel documents (where relevant)
- Certified translations of any documents not in English or Welsh
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be asked for more information on your application and to provide further evidence.
If this is the case, you should ensure that you have applied in plenty of time and that you do not arrange travel to the UK until your application has been approved.
How to extend or switch your visa
Extend your visa
If you can prove that you have abided by the conditions of your stay and that you meet the eligibility requirements for an extension, you may be able to extend your stay in the UK by submitting an extension application.
If granted this visa, you will normally be allowed to stay for up to three years initially, the time outlined in your certificate of sponsorship, or alternatively, you may be permitted to stay for a period of time that brings your total stay to six years (whichever time is shorter).
You must ensure that you apply for your extension before your visa expires, or you may have to leave the UK in order to apply.
Switch to this visa
If you are in the UK and you meet the Minister of Religion Visa requirements and you are already on an eligible visa, you may be able to submit an application to switch to this category.
If your application is approved, you may stay in the UK for up to three years after switching.
Working on the Minister of Religion Visa
To ensure that you are allowed to stay in the UK for the full term of your visa, you must show that you are compliant with your conditions of stay.
Some of these roles include bishop, curate, deacon, imam, nun, rabbi, spiritualist, and theologian. Under some circumstances, it is possible to take a second job while in the UK on this visa.
You may be allowed to take a second job taking up to 20 hours per week of your time, as long as it is in the same profession. You can also undertake voluntary work of up to 20 hours per week.
You may be allowed to study in the UK, but you are not entitled to public funds in the UK (i.e., welfare). You will be issued a new certificate of sponsorship if you decide to take a second role.
What happens if your Minister of Religion Visa is refused?
If your application does not meet the eligibility and suitability requirements for the role of Minister of Religion, your application may be refused.
If your application is refused, you may be able to apply for an administrative review of your case.
If you have made your application in the UK, you may be entitled to lodge an appeal against the decision to refuse your visa extension application, if it is the case that you have no further right to remain in the UK.
It is likely that you won’t be allowed to provide new evidence, and the original information on your case is the only one that you will be allowed to provide as evidence.
Following the decision to refuse your application, you have only 10 working days to lodge an appeal, so it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice for expert support on your application.
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Yes, it may be possible for you to extend your Minister of Religion visa if you meet certain eligibility criteria. You will need to submit an application before your current visa expires. If granted, you will normally be given permission to stay for an extra three years.
In most cases, a person applying for this visa will be able to apply to bring their dependent partner or child with them. Their application should be submitted separately. The application fee is the same as the main applicant.
It is possible for a person to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK following five years of continuous residence and evidence that the person fulfils the eligibility criteria.
After a year of holding indefinite leave to remain, applications may be eligible to apply for British citizenship.