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Tier 2 (Minister of religion) visa

If you wish to apply for a visa in this category then our team at Hunter Stone Law will be able to guide and assist you throughout every step of the process. In order to qualify for this visa you would have to meet the requirement of the relevant section of the Immigration Rules. However we have attempted to simplify the requirements below.

You can apply for a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa if:

  • you’ve been offered a job within a faith community (eg as a minister of religion, missionary, or member of a religious order) in the UK
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements

Obtaining sponsorship

You need to be sponsored - ie have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor - before you can apply to come to the UK to work. The work you do in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organisation.

You can come to the UK with a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa for a maximum of up to 3 years and 1 month, or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 1 month, whichever is shorter.  You can apply to extend your stay.  However you must apply before your visa expires.

Your time in the UK must start no more than 14 days before the start date on your certificate of sponsorship.

Eligibility

You need all of the following to be eligible for a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa:

  • a valid certificate of sponsorship reference number from your sponsor
  • to meet the English language requirement
  • You must also have £945 in savings, this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply, unless you are exempt.

There are some additional rules if you’re currently in the UK on a Tier 4 (General) visa and you want to switch to a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa.

Savings exemption

You won’t need to provide proof of funds if you’re in the UK and you have a visa in one of the following categories:

  • Tier 2
  • work permit holder
  • Jewish agency employee
  • ground staff for an overseas airline
  • minister of religion, missionary, or member of a religious order
  • representative an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation

You won’t need £945n savings if your fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor has stated on your certificate of sponsorship that they’ll certify your maintenance and that you won’t claim benefits during your stay.

Certificate of sponsorship

A certificate of sponsorship is a reference number which holds information about the job and your personal details. It’s not an actual certificate or paper document. Your sponsor will give you your certificate of sponsorship reference number.  They must also give you some other information to help you to apply, eg how much you’ll be paid. You’ll need to add your certificate of sponsorship reference number to your application form - you can only use it once. You must apply for your visa within 3 months of receiving your certificate of sponsorship.

Knowledge of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree

You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways.

English Language Exceptions

You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of majority English speaking country.  The full list of countries is available from the Home Office website.

Documents you must provide

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • a passport size colour photograph
  • evidence that you meet the English language requirements
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £900 in savings (£945 from 1 July) continuously over the last 90 days
  • your tuberculosis (TB) test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

You won’t need £945 if you’re exempt or your fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor has stated on your certificate of sponsorship that they’ll certify your maintenance and that you won’t claim benefits during your stay.

You must provide the original plus a photocopy of every document you provide.

If applying from outside the UK then you must apply online for a Tier 2 (Minister of religion) visa. You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.

If applying in the UK, you can only extend your existing visa or switch to this visa if you’re already in the UK.

Extend your visa

You may be able to apply to extend your stay in the UK under a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa.  You should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend - including children who have turned 18 during your stay.

You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility

You’ll still need to meet the eligibility criteria and provide the right documents. You’ll also need a new certificate of sponsorship from your sponsor.

Switch to this visa

You can apply to change (‘switch’) from another visa to a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa. You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility

You must meet the Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) eligibility requirements and must already be in the UK under any of the following visas:

  • Tier 1 visa
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa
  • Tier 2 (General) visa
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer: established staff) visa and you’re applying to change sponsor
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa under the Immigration Rules in place before 6 April 2010 and you’re applying to change sponsor
  • Tier 4 visa, or you’re a on another kind of student visa - read ‘Switching from a Tier 4 visa’ below
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Creative and sporting) for a job as a professional footballer and you meet the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) requirements
  • Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
  • Innovator Scheme
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
  • International Graduates Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme)
  • Business and Commercial work permit (except multiple entry work permits)
  • Sports and Entertainment work permit (except multiple entry work permits)

You can also switch to a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and you’re:

  • a dependent partner of someone with a Tier 4 visa
  • a Jewish agency employee
  • operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
  • a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
  • an overseas qualified nurse or midwife
  • writing up a thesis
  • a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • a representative of an overseas business
  • a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
  • a student union sabbatical officer

Switch from a Tier 4 or other student visa

You must have received 1 of the following under your Tier 4 or other student visa if you want to switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa:

  • a UK bachelors degree
  • a UK masters degree
  • a postgraduate certificate in education
  • a professional graduate diploma of education

The other student visa categories are:

  • student
  • student nurse
  • student re-sitting an examination
  • overseas qualified nurse
  • person writing up a thesis
  • postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • student union sabbatical officer

PhD students

You must have completed at least 12 months’ study for your PhD during your most recent stay in the UK and had permission to take the qualification.

You must have got your qualification at a UK recognised body or an institution that has a Tier 4 sponsor licence.

Family members/Dependants

Your family members (‘dependants’) must apply to join or remain with you in the UK if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

  • your partner
  • your child under 18
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant

Savings to show your dependants can be supported

You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.

Each dependant must have £630 available to them whether they apply with you or separately. This is in addition to the £945 you must have to support yourself. You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

Please note that you won’t need evidence of your savings if you have a letter from your fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor saying they’ll provide 1 month’s funding of at least £630 for each of your dependants.

If your dependants applying outside the UK then your family members must apply online. They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of their application.

Dependants applying in the UK

Your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas to stay with you if they’re already in the UK. They should apply using the dependant application form.  It’s best to send your dependant’s application at the same time as yours. It should be noted that members of your family can’t apply in the UK as your dependant if they hold a visitor visa.

Taking a second job

You’ll need to make a new Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa application if you want to do a second job that isn’t in the same sector as your main job or isn’t voluntary work. You can do a second job (up to 20 hours a week) that is on the shortage list without making a new application. You’ll need to be sponsored by your second employer and get a new certificate of sponsorship if you make a new application. 

You can’t:

  • apply until you’ve started work with your first sponsor
  • start work with your second sponsor until your application has been approved

Documents you must provide

You’ll need to provide some documents with your application.

You must also include a letter with your application explaining that you want to change your current permission to stay.

Your letter must state:

  • your name
  • your date of birth
  • your current certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • the date when your current permission to stay runs out

What you can and can’t do

You can:

  • work for your sponsor in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
  • do a second job
  • do voluntary work
  • study as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job you’re sponsored for
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • bring family members (‘dependants’) with you

 You can’t:

  • own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless you earn more than £153,00 a year)
  • get public funds
  • start working before you get your visa
  • apply for a second job until you’ve started working for your sponsor

You’ll need to make a new application to the Home Office if you want to do a second job that’s not in the same sector as your main job.