USA and the UK
- What is the UK Minister of Religion Visa?
- What activities are allowed under a Minister of Religion visa?
- What are the requirements for a UK Minister of Religion Visa?
- What are the requirements for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?
- How to apply for a Minister of Religion UK Visa
- What documents are needed for a Minister of Religion Visa?
- How much does a Minister of Religion Visa cost?
- Can the visa be extended?
- How can IAS help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the UK Minister of Religion Visa?
The UK Minister of Religion visa (formerly Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa) is a UK visa for both EEA and non-EEA nationals who would like to come to the United Kingdom to work as a minister of religion, missionary, or another religious worker to a religious order or faith community in the UK. This visa is valid for a period of up to 3 years and 1 month and can be extended if necessary. Therefore meant for religious workers who would like to stay in the UK for longer periods.
While in the UK, a Minister of Religion visa holder may participate in the following activities:
- Leading prayer and religious meetings
- Preaching and/or teaching about religious values
- Officiating religious events including weddings, funerals/burials, and other special services
- Counselling members of their religious community
- Offer welfare support to members of their religious community
- Participate in HR activities involving the coordination of volunteer work and training of preachers
- Participate in the coordination of missionary activities (with the exception of clerical or administrative activities unless the religious worker is filling a position for a senior member)
- Management of staff in the religious organization
- Management of activities such as personnel management, IT, accounts or finance, or anything else necessary for the successful function of the religious organization
- Interpretation of religious text
It should be noted that UK Minister of Religion applicants must have a valid job offer in the UK and be sponsored by a UK Sponsorship Licence holder in order to be eligible for this visa. Religious workers who have been in the UK for at least 5 years under this visa, may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and even UK citizenship if they choose to do so.
What activities are allowed under a Minister of Religion visa?
Individuals in the UK under a Religion visa may be able to participate in the following activities:
- Work full-time for their UK sponsor
- Work additionally for another employer (under a certain set of rules)
- Participate in voluntary work
- Participate in part-time study (only if it does not interfere with their sponsored role)
- Travel to and from the UK freely
- Bring their dependent family members to the UK with them
If a religion visa holder wishes to participate in study at an educational organization that is not managed by the religious organization, then he/she may need to apply for a UK student visa. In addition, religion visa holders may not participate in the following activities whilst in the UK:
- receive any UK public funds
- own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless your earnings exceed £159,600 a year)
What are the requirements for a UK Minister of Religion Visa?
In order to apply for this type of religious visa, all UK Minster of Religion visa applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- The applicant is at least 18 years old
- The applicant has received a job offer from a licensed UK sponsor
- The applicant has received a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for their intended role in the UK
- The applicant is able to meet the necessary English language requirements for a UK visa
- The applicant has the necessary sufficient funds to support themselves whilst in the UK
- The applicant is able to submit evidence of their travel history within the last 5 years
- The applicant has a clear tuberculosis test result (if applying from a country where it is deemed necessary to have this test)
- The applicant does not own more than 10% of their sponsor’s shares (unless the applicant’s earnings are more than £159,600)
What are the requirements for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?
In order to obtain a UK Minister of Religion Visa, the visa applicant must first obtain a job offer from a religious organization that holds a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Each Certificate of Sponsorship is specific to the type of UK visa being applied for (ex. Skilled Worker Sponsor license for the Skilled Worker Visa, etc).
The Certificate of Sponsorship is kept in digital form online. The Religion Visa Sponsor Licence contains the applicant’s personal information along with information regarding the job role they have been offered including the following information:
- Confirmation of the applicant’s full name along with details of their job role and salary or other forms of remuneration
- Confirmation that the job being offered is as Minister of Religion
- Confirmation that the applicant is qualified for the role of Minister of Religion
- Confirmation that the applicant will perform religious duties in the organization
- Confirmation that the applicant is a member of the sponsor’s religious order
- Any other details relevant to the position
It should be noted that your job as a religious worker for this type of visa will not involve a lot of non-pastoral duties such as school teaching, media production, domestic work, or administrative and clerical work unless the applicant is in a role of a senior position within the sponsor’s religious organization.
When applying for a UK Minister of Religion visa, the applicant will be given a Certificate of Sponsorship reference number which they will need when submitting their visa application. This number can only be used once and must be submitted within 3 months of receiving it.
How to apply for a Minister of Religion UK Visa
Minister of Religion Visa UK applications must be made from outside the UK unless the applicant is switching from another UK visa to this religious visa. Visa applications can be filed online through the gov.uk’s website up to 3 months before the date of their intended employment.
After the visa applicant has completed their online application, he/she will then need to book an appointment at a UK visa application centre where the visa applicant will have their biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) collected.
In addition, all visa applicants will also be required to submit a portfolio of supporting documents to the Home Office after they have completed their visa application online. Visa applications are normally processed within 3 weeks if the applicant has applied from outside the UK.
If approved, you will be sent a decision letter along with your passport and visa. Once you have arrived in the UK, you will have 10 days to collect your biometric residence permit at a designated location.
What documents are needed for a Minister of Religion Visa?
Religious workers applying for a Minister of Religion UK Visa will need to submit the following documents along with their visa application:
- The CoS reference number (this will be given to the visa applicant by their UK employer)
- Proof that the applicant has sufficient knowledge of English
- A bank statement or letter proving that the applicant has enough personal savings to support themselves whilst in the UK
- A valid passport or any other valid travel document (this must have a blank page for the UK visa)
- Any expired passport or other travel documents which document the applicant’s travel history
- Tuberculosis test results (if the applicant is applying from a country that requires this test)
How much does a Minister of Religion Visa cost?
Overall the cost to apply for a Minister of Religion UK visa is as follows:
- Application fee if submitting from outside the UK: £625
- Application fee for each dependent: £625
- Application fee if switching to a MInister of Religion visa from within the UK: £719
- Healthcare surcharge: cost will vary depending on your stay
- Biometrics fee: £19.20
To calculate how much the healthcare surcharge will be, visit the gov.uk surcharge calculator here.
Can the visa be extended?
The Minister of Religion visa will be issued for the time given on your Certificate of Sponsorship. Visa holders are permitted to stay for a maximum stay of 3 years and 1 month in the UK. If the religious worker needs or would like to continue working in the UK, they can apply for a Minister of Religion visa extension.
To apply for a visa extension, the applicant will still need to be able to meeting the initial visa requirements. In addition, he/she will also need to submit a new set of documents justifying the extended stay in the UK along with a new Certificate of Sponsorship from their employer.
If approved, the religious worker will be able to stay an additional 3 years and 14 days or the amount of time designated on the CoS.
How can IAS help?
Our dedicated lawyers stay up-to-date with all the changes to the UK’s immigration rules and can help assist you with your UK visa application. Furthermore, we can check your eligibility, help you and your UK employer secure the right Certificate of Sponsorship, and perform a thorough visa application and document check.
Contact us today to learn how we can help including liaising on your behalf with the Home Office and providing you with a Letter of Representation to accompany your application and increase your chances of a successful application.
Call us today at +1 844 290 6312 or leave us a message in the chat to learn more about how we can best help you.
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Visa applicants will normally receive a decision on their application within 3 weeks if applying from outside of the UK. Those applying from within the UK can expect a decision in about 8 weeks.
Applicants who are in a rush to receive a decision on their visa extension or UK visa switch can pay an additional £500 for priority service which will have the application processed within 5 working days. Those who need quicker processing can pay £800 for super-priority service which will process the visa within 1-2 business days.
Dependent family members such as spouses, civil partners, and unmarried children under the age of 18 can join you while you are in the UK under a Minister of Religion Visa. However, you will need to file a dependent visa for each family member and be able to show that you can support both yourself and your family financially whilst in the UK.
All foreign nationals coming to the UK work will need to prove that they can adequately communicate in English. To prove their English language ability, visa applicants must:
- Pass an approved English language test like IELTS. The applicant will need to score at least a CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension.
- Submit academic qualifications where the applicant was taught in English. This must be recognized by Eccits (formerly known as UK NARIC) as an equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or Ph.D.
Foreign nationals who are from an English-speaking country are exempt from having to prove their English ability. For a list of what countries are exempt, visit the gov.uk website.
In order to meet the financial requirements for this type of religious worker visa, the applicant must have at least £1,270 in their bank account. This money will need to have been available for at least 28 continuous days and within 31 days of visa application.
Applicants will need to demonstrate proof of sufficient funds unless they have either been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months or have an employer who can cover the applicant’s expenses during their first month in the UK (up to £1,270). If the employer is financially supporting the religious worker, the CoS will then need to confirm this by completing the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section on their certificate.
Furthermore, any dependent partners or children who are also coming to the UK with the visa holder will also need to prove that they can support themselves whilst in the UK.