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Ministers of Religion, Missionaries and Members of Religious Orders

A minister of religion is a religious official whose main regular duties are to lead a congregation in performing the rites and rituals of the faith and to preach the essentials of the creed.

A missionary is a person who is directly engaged in spreading a religious doctrine and whose work is not administrative or clerical in nature.

A member of a religious order is a person who is coming to live in a community run by that order.

While working here as a minister of religion, missionary or as a member of a religious order you may not change your job without home office's permission. Home office will allow you to change your job if you are still working in the category you were originally given permission for and you still meet the requirements for this category of visa.

A person applying to enter the United Kingdom as a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order may be admitted for up to two years provided he/she is able to produce to the immigration officer, on arrival, a valid United Kingdom entry clearance for entry in this capacity.

An extension of stay as a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order may be granted for a period not exceeding 3 years provided you satisfy eligibility requirements.

Once you have lived here for five years under this category, you will be able to apply to live here permanently.

Please note the Ministers of religion arrangements are due to be deleted on 27 November 2008 when the new points-based system Skilled workers of Tier 2 is launched and any applications must be received by 26 November 2008. These arrangements will include sports people and ministers of religion unless they are coming here temporarily and they will need to apply under Tier 5 - temporary worker .

Eligibility

To qualify to come to the United Kingdom as a minister of religion, you must show that you have been:

  • working for at least one year in the past five years, as a minister of religion; or
  • ordained after training for the ministry - the training must be at least one year full-time or two years part-time.


To qualify to come to work as a missionary you must show that you have either worked as a missionary or that you have been trained as a missionary.

To come to live here with a religious order you must show that the community is maintained by that order and if you are undertaking any teaching, it is only at an establishment maintained by that order.

You must also:

  • prove that you plan to work full-time as a minister of religion, missionary or member of the religious order;
  • not take any other employment;
  • prove that you can support yourself and any dependants you have without needing help from public funds;
  • have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate showing you have achieved English language skills to level 6 (competent user); and
  • have a valid United Kingdom entry clearance in this category.

IELTS is an international test designed to assess the language ability of people who need to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. Candidates are tested on listening, reading, writing and speaking. The tests are available at test centres around the world.

If you already have English skills, such as if you were educated in an English-speaking country, the officer considering your application may decide that you do not need to pass the IELTS test. You will need to prove sufficient English skills in another way.

If you are already living in the United Kingdom with permission to stay here under another category of visa, you can switch to a visa as a minister of religion if you:

  • are in the United Kingdom legally; and
  • have been here for one year or longer; and
  • have been:
    • working as a minister of religion for at least one year during the five years immediately before the date of your application; or
    • ordained as a minister of religion following at least one year of full-time training or two years of part-time training for the ministry, where ordination is the only way of entering the ministry for that faith.
  • must produce an IELTS certificate to certify that you have achieved level 6 in spoken and written English and that it is dated no more than two years prior to the date of your application.

How to Apply

If you are currently outside the United Kingdom, you must obtain a visa (Home office call this 'entry clearance') to enter the United Kingdom as a minister of religion missionary or member of a religious order before you travel here. To obtain it, you should apply to the British diplomatic post in the country where you live.

If you are already in the United Kingdom under another immigration category, and meet the requirements to switch your immigration category to stay here as a minister of religion, you should complete visa application form.


Extending or settlement

You may apply for an extension of stay as a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order for up to three years provided:

  • you had permission to enter the United Kingdom as a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order;
  • you are still doing the work we gave you permission to come here to do;
  • your congregation still needs you;
  • you can still maintain yourself and any dependants without help from public funds and you will not need to do so; and
  • you meet the relevant English language requirements


To extend your visa as a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order, you should complete application form FLR(O). This application form can be downloaded from the right side of this page. Also see Completing application form FLR(O) for more information.

You can apply to live permanently in the United Kingdom if you:

  • entered the United Kingdom with a valid visa as a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order;
  • have worked in the United Kingdom as a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order continuously for five years;
  • you have not asked for help from public funds;
  • your congregation still needs you to work as a minister of religion; and
  • you meet the relevant requirements for knowledge of life and language in the United Kingdom.


To apply to live here permanently, you will need to complete application form SET(O). This form can be downloaded from the home office
's website.

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