Immigration sponsor licence for Religious organisation

In this article we discuss how religious organisations can obtain a sponsor licence and sponsor workers on the T2 Minister of Religion and Religious Worker immigration routes.

Difference between T2 Minister of Religion and Religious Worker

The T2 Minister of Religion route is for the recruitment of a person who has a key leading role within their faith-based organisation or religious order in the UK. It replaced the Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) route on 1 December 2020.

The Temporary Work – Religious Worker route is for people who want to support the activities of religious institutions in the UK by conducting religious work, such as working in a religious order or filling non-pastoral placements, for up to 2 years. The Religious Worker route was known as the T5 (Temporary Worker) Religious Worker route before 11 October 2021.

Can you bring your dependant family members

Both routes allow the worker to bring their dependants (partner and dependent children) with them, if they meet the requirements for dependants on the relevant route.

Can you settle in the UK – Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Ministers of Religion can apply to settle in the UK after 5 years’ continuous residence. The Religious Worker route is not a route to settlement.

Requirements for a T2 Minister of Religion or Religious Worker sponsor licence

In addition to the general requirements for a sponsor licence set out in the Home Office sponsor guidance, to be eligible for a Minister of Religion or Religious Workers sponsor licence, you must be a bona fide religious organisation which:

• has charitable status

• is the structure for a faith-based community with a common system of belief and spiritual goals, codes of behaviour and religious practice, which exists to support and/or propagate common beliefs and practices and where beliefs:

o include any religious belief or similar philosophical belief in something transcendental, metaphysical or ultimate

o exclude any philosophical or political belief concerned with man, unless that belief is similar to religious belief.

• does not exclude anyone from your community on the basis of gender, nationality or ethnicity

• receives financial and material support for your core religious ministry from your congregation or community on a voluntary basis, without promise or coercion

• does not breach, or encourage others to breach, any UK legislation

• does not work against the public interest, or have a detrimental effect on personal or family life as commonly understood in the UK.

Eligible employment on the religious work routes

We discuss the differences between the T2 Minister of Religion visa and the Religious Worker visa in our article here.

Tier 2 Minister of Religion – This route is for those coming to fill mainly pastoral roles in bona fide religious organisations, or the Ministry of Defence. It includes anyone doing preaching and pastoral work, such as ministers of religion. It is also for those coming to the UK as missionaries or members of religious orders.

You must not use the Tier 2 Minister of Religion route to sponsor people who will undertake 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 your organisation (such as a financial controller). Other roles, including those which are mainly administrative, should be sponsored on another suitable route. For example, schools that are maintained by a religious organisation and wish to sponsor a teacher must do so on the Skilled Worker route.

Religious Worker – The Religious Worker route is for people coming to the UK for a temporary period to support the activities of religious institutions. The role must involve performing religious duties within, or directed by, the sponsor, including:

• non-pastoral placements within a religious organisation

• as a member of a religious order – note that members of a religious order can also be sponsored under T2 Minister of Religion

You must not use the Religious Worker route to fill the role of a minister of religion. If you wish to sponsor a minister of religion, you must do so on the T2 Minister of Religion route.