UK introduces new immigration rules for religious workers

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The UK Government is introducing a new immigration category that allows religious workers in non-preaching roles to come to the UK to work for up to two years. This will cover workers whose duties include performing religious rites - such as reading the scriptures aloud or tending to the deities - but not preaching to a congregation.

Unlike Ministers of Religion, they will not have to speak English, and will not be eligible to settle in the UK. They will also be prohibited from acting as a Minister of Religion, Missionary or Member of a Religious Order, in order to avoid this new category being used to circumvent existing rules.

The Home Office will also introduce a pre-entry qualification for all religious workers, carrying out pastoral and non-pastoral work, as part of the wider implementation of the Points-Based System for managed migration.

A further proposal contained in the consultation - for a post-entry civic knowledge test for Ministers of Religion - will not now be introduced. This reflects the separate introduction of a similar test for those applying for British citizenship introduced in November, and similar proposals for those seeking settlement as set out in the five year strategy for asylum and immigration published in February this year.