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Religious | Temporary Work Visa

As a religious worker, your sponsor must hold a religious licence from the Home Office, and they must demonstrate they are legally registered in the UK. Usually, a religious organisation is classed by the HMRC as being exempted from tax purposes.

Where a religious organisation is not registered as a charity, the Home Office will need further information as to their reasons for not doing so.

As a religious organisation, its structure is faith based with a common belief and spiritual goals. It will have codes of behaviour and practices that its follows, including but not limited to religious belief. The organisation must not have political belief or philosophical beliefs.

Furthermore, the Home Office would expect that the religious organisation does not exclude the community on the basis of their gender, ethnicity or nationality, as a religious organisation is expected to promote good practices for the betterment of the society.

When the religious organisation asks for financial support, there should be no promises being made for any rewards and does not breach ay of the UK’s laws or legislations.

The requirements of the religious worker visa

You can apply for the religious worker visa if you intend to come and work in the UK for a temporary basis. Here are the requirements that you must satisfy at the date of application:

  1. The religious organisation will need to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) which is the electronic document confirming your right to work in the UK as a religious worker.

  2. By assigning the CoS, your sponsor will need to make sure that you are able to work in the occupation as listed on the document.

  3. You will not be allowed to work for anyone else or anywhere else other than the location of the sponsor.

  4. Your sponsor will need to confirm details of your accommodation in the UK.

  5. Finally, your sponsor would need to ensure that you can be financially maintained in the UK.

Whenever a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is assigned for a religious worker, your sponsor will need to confirm that they have met the resident labour market test or have made this job known to all resident people, without denying anyone who is qualified to do the job in question.

As a religious worker you will be allowed to remain in the UK for a certain period as set out on your Certificate of Sponsorship and must leave the UK prior to the visa is to expire.

You cannot be employed as a Ministry of Religion, as this can only be done under the Tier 2 General sponsorship.

How long is the visa valid for a religious worker?

The visa can be applied for 24 months however if the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is given for a period less than that, then the visa will only be issued for the time specified by your sponsor.

If the visa is granted for less than 24 months, then your sponsor can re-issue a new CoS, which would take you to the maximum period allowed and can apply for an extension of stay in the UK, subject to you meeting the requirements at the date of the application.

Those who have been in the UK in the last 12 months under this visa category, cannot apply for the religious worker visa.

How to apply for the religious worker visa

You will need to make the visa application from outside of the UK as a religious worker. You cannot switch into the visa from the UK and will be required to apply for the religious worker visa from outside of the UK.

Frequently asked questions about the religious worker visa

You will find some useful information below regarding the religious worker visa and its process.

How to lodge an application for a religious worker visa

The visa application as a religious worker must be applied from outside of the UK. Your sponsor will need to provide the valid Certificate of Sponsorship in order for you to apply for the visa. At the time of your application, you must check all the relevant details and ensure the CoS is valid.

How long does a religious worker visa take to be decided by the Home Office

A religious worker visa is granted within 15 working days. Delays can happen but will depend on the case working levels at the decision making post.

If a religious worker visa is refused, can the decision be appealed?

An application that is refused under the religious worker visa cannot be appealed against however you can lodge a request for a review of the decision. You must set out the case working errors.

Taking legal advice on the religious worker visa

We at ICS Legal will provide guidance and correct advice on how to apply under the religious worker visa and we find this is essential when considering working in the UK. You can speak to one of our UK Immigration Lawyers on 0207 237 3388 or you can email us at

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