On 10 January changes were made to the Immigration Rules which mean that organisations can no longer sponsor a migrant in the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Religious worker category (under 245ZN of the Immigration Rules) to fill the role of a Minister of Religion.
This category was often used for Priests to come to the UK for short periods to cover temporary periods of absences. This route is also relied upon by congregations who wish for Nuns to come to the UK on short term basis. Julie Moktadir considers the issue further.
The definition of a Minister of Religion is stated within the guidance as “someone who is a religious functionary whose main regular duties comprise the leading of a congregation in performing the rites and rituals of the faith and in preaching the essentials of the creed”.
Immigration Rule 169 confirms this definition:
- A minister of religion means a religious functionary whose main regular duties comprise the leading of a congregation in performing the rites and rituals of the faith and in preaching the essentials of the creed;
- A missionary means a person who is directly engaged in spreading a religious doctrine and whose work is not in essence administrative or clerical;
- A member of a religious order means a person who is coming to live in a community run by that order.
This means that a Priest coming to the UK to lead a congregation, by performing Mass and overseeing the other duties, whilst the incumbent Priest is absent, will not be able to apply under the Tier 5 route.
Distinction must therefore be made between a Minister of Religion and a Religious Worker. It must be established whether an individual is coming to the UK to lead a congregation and performing those duties of faith. The purpose of visit must therefore be considered carefully.
Should you require any further information or support on this matter, please do contact Julie Moktadir, our Immigration Specialist. As always, we are interested to hear of your experience. If you have had any refusals or successes since January please do contact Julie.