Tier 5 (Temporary worker - religious workers)
This section explains how you can come to the United Kingdom or remain here in the religious worker category (Tier 5 Temporary Worker) under our points-based system to work in the UK.
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What is the religious worker category?
The religious worker category is for people coming to the UK to work temporarily as a religious worker.
Religious workers can do:
- preaching, pastoral work and non-pastoral work;
- work in the UK in the same way you are working in an overseas organisation (although your duties in the UK may be different). The job should be done during a break from your job overseas; or
- work in a religious order with community which involves a permanent commitment like a monastery or convent. The work in a religious order must be in the order itself or outside work directed by the order. You can apply if you are a novice whose training means taking part in the daily community life of the order.
Who can apply as a religious worker?
Before you apply under the religious category, you must have:
- a sponsor; and
- a valid certificate of sponsorship.
When you apply you are awarded points based on your sponsorship and available maintenance (funds).
You can apply under the religious worker category now if you are:
- applying for permission to enter the UK (known as 'entry clearance') under the religious worker category;
- already in the UK as a Tier 5 religious worker and want to extend your permission to stay if you have been here for less than 24 months, which is the maximum time you are allowed to stay.
If you are coming to the UK for a business visit, for example, you are attending a conference, you can do some preaching and pastoral work as long as you are based overseas and do not plan to work here. See business and special visitors for more information.
If you are a member of a religious order and studying for a qualification, a formal full-time course of study or training in an academic institution not looked after by the order, you should apply under the student category (Tier 4).
Teachers working in schools not looked after by their order must apply as a teacher under the sponsored skilled worker category of tier 2. See the sponsored skilled worker category for more information.
If your main reason for coming to the UK is to do preaching and pastoral work, you should apply under the minister or religion category of tier 2. See the minister of religion category for more information.
Switching is not allowed in or out of the religious worker category.
Go to our visa services section if you are applying from outside the UK. There you can find out more about the process in the country you are applying from and download the relevant application forms.
How long can you stay for?
If you are given permission to stay as a religious worker, you will be able to live and work in the UK for a maximum time of 24 months, or the time given in your certificate of sponsorship plus 28 days, whichever is shorter (beginning no more than 14 days before the start date given on your certificate of sponsorship).
If you would like to come to the UK for longer you should see the minister of religion category of tier 2 of our points-based system to work in the UK.
If you need to be able to come and go from the UK with your job
If you need to leave and come back to the UK quite a few times as part of the job you are doing, you can get a multiple entry certificate of sponsorship. Your sponsor will give you a multiple entry certificate of sponsorship that allows you to come and go from the UK a number of different times during the length of your certificate.
If you leave the UK, and you were given permission to stay for 6 months or less and did not have a visa (known as 'entry clearance'), your permission to stay will end when you leave the UK.
Proof that your application is genuine
When applying for entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain, we must be satisfied that you genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, the role for which the Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned.
We must also be satisfied that you will not undertake any other employment in the UK.
If we have concerns, we may:
- request additional information and evidence, and refuse the application if this is not provided. Any requested documents must be received within 28 working days of the date the request is sent; and
- request you attend an interview, and refuse the application if you fail to comply.
To help us make a decision, we may consider your:
- knowledge of the role;
- experience relative to skills required to do the role;
- knowledge of your sponsor in the UK;
- explanation of how you were recruited; and
- any other relevant information.
Tier 5 (Temporary worker) - policy guidance
- Tier 5 (Temporary worker) policy guidance. PDF 482KB opens in a new window