Tier 2 (Minister of religion)
This section explains how you can come to or stay in the UK as a minister of religion under the Tier 2 (Minister of religion) category of the points-based system.
- What is Tier 2 (Minister of religion)?
- Who can apply under Tier 2 (Minister of religion)?
- How long can you stay?
- How long will we take to process your application?
What is Tier 2 (Minister of religion)?
This category is for people who want to take up employment or posts or roles within their faith communities in the UK as:
- ministers of religion undertaking preaching and pastoral work;
- missionaries; or
- members of religious orders.
Pastoral duties include:
- leading worship regularly and on special occasions;
- giving religious education to children and adults by preaching or teaching;
- officiating at marriages, funerals and other special services; and
- offering counselling and welfare support to members of the congregation; and
- recruiting, training and co-ordinating the work of any local volunteers and lay preachers.
Work as a missionary is not just preaching and teaching. It can include:
- the organisation of missionary activity (but should not be administrative or clerical, unless filling a senior post);
- supervising staff;
- co-ordinating the organisation of missionary work;
- being in charge of a particular activity such as accounts/finance, personnel management or IT; and
- translating religious texts - this is missionary work, not clerical work.
The work in a religious order must be in the order itself or outside work directed by the order.
You should apply under the student category (Tier 4) of the points-based system if you are a member of a religious order and you want to study for a qualification, a formal full-time course of study or training in an academic institution not looked after by the order.
Working full-time as a teacher in a school run by a church or missionary organisation does not count as missionary work. If this is the work that you will be doing, you must apply as a teacher under the Tier 2 (General) category. See What is the skilled worker category (Tier 2 General)? for more information.
If you want to come to the UK as a religious worker for a shorter time, you should apply under the religious worker category of Tier 5. See religious workers for more information.
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Who can apply under Tier 2 (Minister of religion)?
Before you apply under Tier 2 (Minister of religion), you must have:
- a sponsor; and
- a valid certificate of sponsorship.
When you apply you are awarded points based on your:
- certificate of sponsorship:
- English language skills; and
- available maintenance (funds).
You can apply in this category now if you:
- want permission to enter the UK (known as 'entry clearance') under Tier 2 (Minister of religion) - see Initial applications;
- are already in the UK with permission to stay (known as 'leave to remain') in an immigration category that allows you to switch into Tier 2 (Minister of religion) - see How to switch into the Tier 2 (Minister of religion) category; or
- are already in the UK as a minister of religion and you want to extend your permission to stay in the same category (see Extending your stay).
if you are applying from outside the UK, go to our visa services website. There you can find out more about the process in the country you are applying from, and download the relevant application forms.
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How long can you stay?
If you apply from outside the UK and we give you permission to come here as a minister of religion, you will be able to live and work in the UK for a maximum of three years plus one month, or the time given in your certificate of sponsorship plus one month, whichever time is shorter.
If you are already in the UK under a different category, you may be able to apply to switch into the Tier 2 (Minister of religion) category. If we approve your application, you will be able to live and work here for a maximum of three years, or the time given in your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.
At the end of your period of permission, you will need to apply to extend your stay as a minister of religion if you want to remain here. See Extending your stay for more information.
If we give you you permission to extend your stay in the UK as a minister of religion, you will get another two years, or the time given in your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever time is shorter.
If you are currently in the UK under the old 'ministers of religion, missionaries and members of religious orders' category, you can apply under the transitional arrangements for permission to stay for a time that takes you to five years in the UK in an eligible category. For example, if you have already been here for two-and-a-half years, you can apply for a further two-and-a-half years' permission to stay.
If this means you would get permission to stay for less than a further two years, you can apply for permission to stay for two years instead. For example, if you have been here for four years with permission as a minister of religion, missionary, member of a religious order or under the transitional arrangements, you can apply for a further two years' permission to stay.
You may apply for settlement once you have been here for five years. If you do not apply for settlement, you must apply under the points-based system and make a new application.
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How long will we take to process your application?
Our service standards set out how quickly we aim to decide applications for living in the UK as a minister of religion. The standard for applications made under an employment route, of which tier 2 (Minister of religion) is a part, is that we will decide 75 per cent of applications within four weeks.
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