Religious Worker Visa

The Religious Worker route is for individuals who want to support the activities of religious institutions in the UK. It is a temporary work route and does not lead to settlement in the UK. Eligible religious workers can come to the UK for up to 24 months. 

Religious worker can only conduct works of supporting and non-pastoral nature, and cannot involve leading a congregation, performing rites, preaching the essentials of the creed as their core duties. Individuals who engage pastoral work should apply under Minister of Religion route.

Criteria for a Religious Worker visa:

  • The applicant must be aged 18 or over.
  • The role involves performing religious duties within, or directed by the sponsor’s organisation, to support the activities of the religious institution.
  • The duties do not include work of leading a congregation in performing the rites and rituals of the faith and in preaching the essentials of the creed.
  • The applicant will receive pay that is not lower than the National Minimum Wage and not lower than those given to settled workers in the same role.
  • The applicant must be able to financially maintain themselves in the UK.
  • The sponsor (the religious institution) has met the resident labour market consideration requirement.

The resident labour market consideration requirement can be met if one of the following applies:

  • the role is supernumerary, and the migrant worker will not be filling a vacant position that could otherwise be filled by a settled worker;
  • the role involves living mainly within and being a member of a religious order, which must be a lineage of communities or of people who live in some way set apart from the society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, for example an order of nuns or monks;
  • the sponsor holds national records of all available individuals, details of those records and confirms that the records show that no suitable settled worker is available to fill the role;
  • a national recruitment search was undertaken, and no suitable workers are available for the role.

The sponsor

To sponsor religious workers, the religious institute must hold a A-rated sponsor licence under religious worker route. The sponsor must ensure it has met the resident labour market consideration requirement (see above) before assigning a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to a prospective worker.


Costs for a sponsor licence under religious worker route are:

  • £536 for small sponsor
  • £1,476 for large sponsor

CoS assigning fees are £25 each.

A decision for a sponsor licence application usually takes 6 to 8 weeks under standard service and 2 weeks under priority service at additional costs of £500.

The Home Office fees for a religious worker visa application are:

  • application fee £298 per applicant
  • Immigration healthcare surcharge (IHS) £1,035 per year

A decision usually takes 3 weeks for initial application and 8 weeks for an extension. Priority service may expedite the processing time to 5 working days, at an additional cost of £500. The length of visa will be aligned with the period of employment on the CoS. 

Religious workers can stay in the UK for a maximum of 24 months, regardless of the number of extensions made.

Davenport Solicitors: Your Trusted Partner

Our immigration team at Davenport Solicitors specialises in full spectrum of work visas and sponsor licence application and compliance. We offer comprehensive advice and solutions tailed to align with the needs of your organisation or individual immigration goals.

We are happy to offer initial discussion meeting. Contact us.

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