Minister of Religion visa guide
Table of content
- Job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship
- Genuineness of an application
- Financial requirement
- English language requirement
- Tuberculosis certificate
- Application process and grant
- Visa processing time and fees
- Family members
- Supplementary and secondary employment
- Absence from employment
- Visa extension
- Supporting documents
- Administrative review
T2 Minister of Religion visa is part of the points-based system designed to enable religious ministers to enter the UK and perform a key leading role within a faith-based organisation or religious order in the UK. This visa is appropriate for an applicant who intends to come to the UK for the long term; however, an applicant who only intends to come to the UK for a short period should apply under the Tier 5 Temporary Religious Worker category.
The definition of ‘Minister of Religion’ includes missionaries or other members of religious orders. It is expected that such ministers will undertake duties such as leading religious services, worship, weddings or funerals, providing religious instruction whether through teaching or preaching, and providing support and counselling to a faith community.
The applicant will need to score 70 points: 50 for a job offer by an approved sponsor, 10 for maintenance and 10 for English:
To be eligible for this visa, the applicant will have to show that:
- they have a certificate of sponsorship for their job,
- prove their knowledge of English,
- have personal savings so that they can support themselves,
- they can travel and provide their travel history over the last 5 years
- they have tuberculosis test results if they are from a listed country.
Job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship
50 points will be awarded if the applicant has a job offer and a CoS that was issued to them no more than 3 months before the date of application from an organisation that is a licensed sponsor in the UK.
A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a virtual document which is assigned by the sponsor using a secure IT system called the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). The reference number for the CoS should be provided in the application.
The Certificate of Sponsorship must confirm all of the following details:
- the applicant’s name and details of the job and salary and any other remuneration,
- the job is as a T2 Minister of Religion,
- the applicant is qualified to do the job,
- the applicant is a member of the sponsor’s religious order (if the sponsor’s organisation is a religious order),
- the applicant will perform religious duties within the sponsor’s organisation or directed by the sponsor’s organisation in the UK (which may include preaching, pastoral and non-pastoral work),
- the applicant’s role 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 organisation,
- that applicant will receive pay and conditions at least equal to those given to settled workers in the same role and compliant with the national minimum wage,
- that the applicant will be based in the UK,
- that if the application is successful, the applicant will comply with the conditions of their permission
Where an applicant has received an award covering fees and living costs from a government or international scholarship agency in the 12 months before the date of application, the government or agency must provide written consent to the application.
Genuineness of an application
When an applicant applies for entry clearance or permission to stay as a T2 Minister of Religion, they will have to satisfy the Home Office, that they:
- genuinely intend, and are able, to undertake the role for which they are being sponsored,
- do not intend to undertake employment other than in the role for which they are being sponsored, or as otherwise permitted,
To assess this, on the balance of probabilities, the Home Office may request additional information and evidence or require an applicant to attend an interview. The application may be refused if the requested evidences are not provided within 10 business days of the date the request is made or if the applicant fails to attend the interview without providing a reasonable explanation.
The Home Office may take into account the applicant’s:
- knowledge of the role
- relevant experience relative to skills required to do the role
- knowledge of the sponsor in the UK
- explanation of how they were recruited
- any other relevant information
The applicant will be awarded 10 points if they meet the financial requirement in one of three ways:
- they are applying for permission to stay and have been living in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the date of application; or
- their A-rated sponsor has confirmed on the CoS that they will, if necessary, maintain and accommodate the applicant up to the end of the first month of their employment, for an amount of at least £1,270; or
- they provide evidence showing they have held funds of at least £1,270 for a 28-day period.
English language requirement
The applicant will also be awarded 10 points if they have English language skills of at least level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening.
The applicant can prove their knowledge of the English language by either passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening or having an academic qualification that was taught in English.
During the application process, the Entry Clearance Officer will carry out the genuineness test in order to be satisfied that the applicant genuinely intends to undertake, and is capable of undertaking the role for which the Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned and he will not undertake employment in the UK other than permitted by the leave to remain, should it be granted. It follows that the applicant’s immigration history will be taken into consideration.
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Where the application is for entry clearance as a T2 Minister of Religion, the applicant must provide a valid tuberculosis (TB) certificate with their application if they have been residing within a country listed in Appendix T of the Immigration Rules for the six months immediately preceding the application.
An applicant who is in the UK cannot apply to switch onto the T2 Minister of Religion route if they have, or have last been granted, permission:
- as a Visitor
- as a Short-term Student
- as a Parent of a Child Student
- as a Seasonal Worker
- as a Domestic worker in a private household
- outside the Immigration Rules
Application process and grant
A person seeking to come to the UK as a T2 Minister of Religion must apply for and obtain entry clearance as a T2 Minister of Religion before they arrive in the UK. The visa application should be done online and the applicant will have to get their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre.
Should the application be successful, the applicant will have to collect their biometric residence permit within 10 days of when they stated they will arrive in the UK.
You must provide your documents after you submit your application, these can be originals or copies; however, any passports provided must be originals. You will be able to upload copies of your documents on the Home Office commercial partner’s website, or you can take your documents to your biometrics appointment to be scanned and uploaded by their commercial partner for a fee. You’ll be told how to book an appointment and upload your documents after you submit your application. You do not need to send any physical documents to the Home Office or UK Visas & Immigration unless you are advised to do so.
The maximum duration of the Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) Visa may be specified in the CoS, otherwise the applicant may stay in the UK with this visa up to 3 years and 30 days, or up to one month after the period stated on their certificate of sponsorship (whichever is shorter), and up to 6 years with extensions.
As the immigration rules stand at the moment, a Tier 2 Minister of Religion may qualify for indefinite leave to remain after five continuous years.
The applicant will have the right to work for his sponsor organisation to carry out the role stated in their CoS and application. He may also undertake a second post in the same sector as his main post, though if they want to work in a completely different type of job, they would have to submit another visa application. Under this type of visa, the applicant is also allowed to carry out voluntary work, to study, to travel to and from the UK, and bring family members and dependants with them.
The usual Tier 2 restrictions apply – namely that the applicant cannot access public funds during their stay in the UK, they cannot start work until they have received their visa, and they cannot apply for a second job until the first post has commenced; the only exception to this is if they’ll be working in a role for which there is a skills shortage in the UK. Ministers of religion may take on work in a Shortage Occupation without submitting a second application. The applicant is not allowed to own more than 10% of their sponsor organisation’s shares, unless their annual income exceeds £155,300.
For the purposes of fulfilling the visa requirements, volunteer work is not considered to be employment, so ministers may carry out unpaid volunteer tasks with no fear of repercussions.
Visa processing time and fees
How much you pay for a Minister of Religion visa (T2) depends on where you are; the cost of a tier 2 visa application is £610 if applied for from outside the UK, and £704 for applicants within the UK. If you’re from an eligible country, your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55, however, your partner and children will still need to pay the full application fee.
The applicant will also have to pay a healthcare surcharge.
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you’re due to start working in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.
You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK. However, depending on your location, it may be possible to use a priority service to fast track your visa processing.
If you’re applying to extend or switch in the UK you can pay an extra £500 for the priority service to get a decision within 5 working days.
You can pay an extra £800 for the super priority service to get a decision:
- by the end of the next working day after providing your biometric information if your appointment is on a weekday
- 2 working days after providing your biometric information if your appointment is at the weekend
A dependent partner and dependent children of a Minister of Religion can apply on this route.
A dependant partner or child is any of the following:
- your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- your child under 18 – including if they were born in the UK during your stay
- your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant
You’ll need to provide evidence of your relationship when you apply.
Your partner and children will also need to prove they can support themselves while they’re in the UK
Your partner or children must have a certain amount of money available to support themselves while they’re in the UK.
You – or your partner or child – will need:
- £285 for your partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
You – or 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 you or them applying for this visa.
You’ll usually need to show proof of this when they apply, unless either:
- you have all been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months
- your employer can cover your family’s costs during your first month in the UK – this must be confirmed on your certificate of sponsorship
Supplementary and secondary employment
In addition to the job specified on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), a T2 Minister of Religion’s conditions allow them to do extra work if:
- it is either on a job on the Shortage Occupation List or a job in the same profession and at the same professional level as the work for which the CoS was assigned,
- it is no more than 20 hours per week,
- it is outside the working hours covered by the CoS
- the person remains working for the sponsor in the job for which the CoS was assigned.
A person with permission on the T2 Minister of Religion route can do a second job that does not qualify as supplementary employment (for example, it requires more than 20 hours work a week). They will need a new CoS for this second job and apply for a variation of permission, in addition to the CoS and permission for their existing job because working in the second job is not covered by their existing conditions.
If the secondary employment is approved, the applicant will have 2 sponsors during the period that both CoS are valid; accordingly, a new BRP will be issued and the card should read ‘2 CoS as Letter indicating that the applicant has secondary employment.
A person must make a change of employment application if they change employer; meaning that the person must re-apply with a new Certificate of Sponsorship for their new job.
If you wish to find out more about your immigration matters, our team of experienced lawyers is happy to assist.
Absence from employment
Where a person with permission on the T2 Minister of Religion route has been absent from work without pay, or on reduced pay, for more than 4 weeks during any calendar year, the Home Office may cancel their permission, unless the reason for absence or reduction in salary is one of the following:
- statutory maternity leave, paternity leave or parental leave
- statutory adoption leave
- sick leave
- assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis, providing their sponsor agreed to the absence for that purpose
- taking part in legally organised industrial action
You may be able to apply to extend your stay in the UK under a Minister of Religion visa. You can add your partner and children to your online application – including children who have turned 18 during your stay. You should apply before your current visa expires.
You’ll still need to meet the eligibility criteria and provide the right documents. You’ll also need a new certificate of sponsorship from your sponsor.
To be eligible for settlement, the applicant must have spent a continuous period of 5 years, before the date of application, in the UK with permission on any or a combination of the following routes:
- T2 Minister of Religion / Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
- T2 Sportsperson / Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
- Skilled Worker / Tier 2 (General)
- Representative of an Overseas Business
- Global Talent
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
- Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
- Tier 1 (General)
- Tier 1 (Investor)
The most recent permission must have been on either the T2 Minister of Religion or Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) route.
The sponsor in the applicant’s most recent permission must still be approved by the Home Office to sponsor a T2 Minister of Religion confirm that:
- they still require the applicant to work for them
- the applicant will be required for the foreseeable future
- the applicant has been receiving, and will continue to receive, a salary at least equal to that paid to settled workers in the same role and compliant with the national minimum wage
The applicant does not need to meet an English language requirement for settlement, as they will have met this in their previous T2 Minister of Religion application.
When you apply you’ll need to provide:
- your certificate of sponsorship reference number
- proof of your knowledge of English
- evidence that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK, for example bank statements (unless your certificate of sponsorship shows your employer can support you)
- a valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality
- your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country
If your documents are not in English, you’ll also need to provide a certified translation.
You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.
If an application for entry clearance is refused, the applicant cannot appeal against the decision. However, if they think the Home Office has made an error in considering their application, they can apply for an administrative review.
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This visa is a subcategory of the standard visitor visa enabling visitors only to get married in the UK and leave the country on the expiry of their visa; it should not be confused with fiancée visa which is intended to those who want to settle in the UK after their wedding.