T2 Minister of Religion and Religious Worker visa categories

In the UK immigration rules there are two main visa routes , 1st one is the T2 Minister of Religion & 2nd one is the Religious Worker, on which you can sponsor people to work in religious occupations:

• T2 Minister of Religion: this route is for the recruitment of a person who has a key leading role within their religious establishment or organisation in the UK, such as a minister of religion, missionary, member of a religious order, or other religious workers in mainly pastoral roles

• Temporary Work – Religious Worker: this 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 nonpastoral placements, for no more than 2 years

Organisations looking to employ overseas workers on T2 Minister of Religion or Religious Worker visa routes, must first obtain a suitable sponsor licence from the UK Home Office.  

Religious Workers work visa categories

Other UK visa routes available to religious workers

Religious organisations can also sponsor workers to fill temporary positions on the Charity Worker route, provided the work is unpaid and comes within the definition of voluntary fieldwork which applies on that route – this includes a requirement that the work is directly related to the organisation’s charitable aims.

Religious workers can come to the UK to preach or do pastoral work for up to 6 months, without being sponsored, on the Visitor route, provided they:

• will not take employment, or work which amounts to them filling a role or providing short-term cover for a role within a UK-based organisation; and

• will not receive payment, except reasonable expenses to cover the cost of their travel and subsistence.

Key differences between T2 Minister of Religion and Religious Worker visa route

Key differences between T2 Minister of Religion and Religious Worker visa route are outlined in the table below.

RequirementT2 Minister of ReligionReligious Worker
Eligible EmploymentWork must be of a mainly pastoral nature, such as leading a congregation in performing rites and rituals, and preaching the essentials of the creed. This includes, but is not limited to, religious leaders such as priests, imams, rabbis, and other ministers of religionWork can involve performing religious duties to support the activities of religious institutions and can be either pastoral or non-pastoral. It can include working in a religious order. You cannot use this route to sponsor ministers of religion.
Resident labour considerationNot requiredUnless an exemption applies, you must check whether the role could be carried out by a suitably qualified ‘settled worker’ before you can offer it to a sponsored worker. Unless the job is exempt from the resident labour consideration, you must advertise the job you want to recruit for, or conduct a search of national records you hold, to give settled workers a chance to apply.
SponsorshipCertificate of Sponsorship requiredCertificate of Sponsorship required
English languageApplicants must meet the English language requirement. Level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for language in all 4 components (speaking, listening, reading, writing). Not required
Financial requirementRequired to meet the financial requirementRequired to meet the financial requirement
Switching (changing immigration category)Applicants in the UK on another immigration route can switch to T2 Minister of Religion (with certain exceptions).In-country switching not permitted.
 Maximum stayCan be sponsored for up to 6 years and may be eligible to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) after 5 years on this route.Maximum stay of 2 years with no option to apply for settlement.
Pay and conditions of stayAny worker you sponsor on the T2 Minister of Religion or Religious Worker routes must receive pay and conditions that are no less favourable than those given to settled workers in the same role. This may be a traditional salary, stipend, board and lodgings, or a combination of these, but, in all cases, must comply with, or be exempt from, the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 (as amended from time to time) (‘the NMW Regulations’).
Cooling off periodNot applicableApplicants applying for entry clearance will be subject to a 12-month cooling-off period if they’ve had been in the UK as a Religious Worker or Charity Worker within the last 12 months.
Can dependant family members apply  YESYES
Does it lead to Settlement in the UKYESNO
Officially sponsored former studentsIf the applicant has in the last 12 months received an award from a Government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs for study in the UK, they must provide written consent to the application from that Government or agency.Restriction does not apply.
Applicants on both routes must also: • be aged 18 or over on the date they apply – see Age requirement for further information • genuinely intend and be able to undertake the role for which they are being sponsored; and • not intend to undertake employment other than in the role for which they are being sponsored, or as otherwise permitted by their conditions of stay – see section S8 of Part 2: Sponsor a worker for further information on conditions of stay