- What is Minister of Religion immigration permission?
- Who is eligible for the Minister of Religion scheme?
- What can you do as a Minister of Religion?
- What can you not do as a Minister of Religion?
- The application process
- Required documents
- Travelling to Ireland as a Minister of Religion
- How can Total Law help?
- Frequently asked questions
What is Minister of Religion immigration permission?
Minister of Religion permission is a type of immigration permission that allows Ministers of Religion to stay in Ireland for the purpose of working with an eligible religious body or faith community.
The Minister of Religion scheme applies to visa required and non-visa required nationals. If you intend to stay in Ireland as a Minister of Religion for more than 3 months then you must either apply for preclearance under the scheme if you are a non-visa required national or if you are a visa-required national then you will also need to apply for a Minister of Religion Visa as well as preclearance.
The Minister of Religion scheme allows you to stay in Ireland for up to three years and there is also the possibility to extend your stay for another three years.
Who is eligible for the Minister of Religion scheme?
To be eligible for the Minister of Religion visa you must meet certain criteria, you will need to:
- Be a non-EU/EEA or non-Swiss citizen
- Be either a qualified, ordained or professed member of a faith community or religious body
- Be offered a role as a Minister of Religion in Ireland by the same religious body of faith community that you are a qualified, ordained or professed member of.
- Prove that you will be fully supported financially by your sponsoring religious body or faith community for the duration of your stay
- Demonstrate at least 3 years of experience as a Minister of Religion
- Have a clean police record
- Be vetted by the An Garda Síochána to work with children and vulnerable adults in Ireland
- Get private medical insurance from a company authorised by the Health Insurance Authority of Ireland you can also get medical insurance by being covered by the group insurance scheme of your sponsor
What can you do as a Minister of Religion?
Qualifying religious personnel who are granted immigration permission as a Minister of Religion will be granted an initial stay of 1 year, this can be extended up to three years. After the three years, you can also apply for yearly extensions for a further 3 years.
Whilst in Ireland under the Minister of Religion scheme you can work as a Minister of Religion and you can also participate in voluntary work or study as long as this doesn’t interfere with your primary role. You can also travel in and out of the country for short periods of time, for example, you can take holidays or attend overseas conferences.
The Minister of Religion Visa also permits you to bring family members with you to Ireland, this includes your spouse or partner and children under the age of 18. The length of immigration permission granted to your family members will be in line with the immigration permission you are granted yourself. If you leave Ireland then your family members will need to also leave the country.
What can you not do as a Minister of Religion?
Whilst the Minister of Religion Visa gives you the freedom to live, work and study in Ireland there are certain things that it does not permit you to do.
Whilst in Ireland you cannot do any other paid work apart from your Minister of Religion role. You also cannot change the religious body or faith community that you work for.
Other conditions include:
- You can’t change to a different immigration permission during your stay
- You can’t apply for permission to remain as a volunteer after your permission to work as a Minister of Religion has expired
- You can only bring eligible family members, this means you can’t bring elderly parents, children over the age of 18, siblings etc.
- You and your family members cannot use public services such as health services or claim benefits in Ireland.
The preclearance approval letter and visa application process
The application process for Minister of Religion immigration permission varies depending on whether you require an entry visa or not. If you are a non-visa required national then you will only need to apply for a preclearance approval letter whereas if you are a visa-required national you will need to apply for a long stay (D) visa as well.
You can apply for a preclearance approval letter or entry visa up to 3 months before you come to Ireland and you must do so before travelling to the country from your home country.
To begin the application process you will need to complete the online visa application form, how you fill in the form depends on what you are applying for. Visa applicants must select visa/preclearance type as ‘Long Stay (D)’, the journey Type as ‘multiple’ and the reason for travel as ‘Visa –Minister of Religion’. Preclearance applicants will need to select visa/preclearance type as ‘Long Stay (D)’ the journey Type as ‘multiple’ and the reason for travel as ‘Preclearance –Minister of Religion’.
The next step in the application process is to organise all of your supporting documents and to pay the appropriate fees, once you have done this you can submit your application.
There are a number of documents that you will need to submit alongside your preclearance approval letter or long-stay visa application, they include:
- The summary application form, this must be signed and dated
- Two passport-sized photographs
- Your current passport, this must be valid for at least 12 months from your date of entry
- Copies of your previous passports, if you cannot provide your previous passports you will need to submit a letter explaining why
- Evidence that you have medical insurance or that you are included in the group insurance scheme of your sponsoring body
- 6 months of up to date bank statements
- A letter of application that includes details about yourself and your reason for travelling to Ireland
- Plans for your accommodation whilst in Ireland
- Evidence of your qualifications and work experience
- A police clearance certificate
- Information and documents related to your family members if they will join you in Ireland
- Details of any previous visa refusals
As well as the above documents, your sponsoring religious organisation will also need to provide a number of documents including:
- A sponsorship letter
- A Garda vetting certificate
- A full 6 months bank statement
Travelling to Ireland as a Minister of Religion
It’s worth noting that your visa or preclearance approval letter only gives you permission to travel to Ireland for a specific purpose, they do not give you permission to enter or stay in the country. An immigration officer at your port of entry will decide whether to grant you immigration permission.
Your preclearance approval letter or visa will show the dates that you can travel to Ireland between, you must travel to the country whilst before the end date. When you arrive at the border you will need to present an appropriate preclearance approval letter or visa to the immigration officer. You should also carry other documents such as your letter of invitation, accommodation booking and medical insurance documents.
The immigration officer will then decide whether to grant you permission to enter and live in Ireland. Once you are granted entry you will also need to register with the immigration authorities to be able to stay for more than 90 days. The immigration officer will tell you when you need to register by.
How can Total Law help?
Applying for immigration permission as a Minister of Religion is often a complex process. You will need to be able to demonstrate that you can meet the strict requirements in order to successfully be granted permission.
Our professional immigration lawyers can assist you with all aspects of your Minister of Religion application. We offer immigration advice sessions where we can assess whether you meet the requirements for entry as a Minister of Religion and we also offer application services in which our lawyers can assist you with paperwork and help you to gather all of the documents that you will need.
For more information about how we can assist you, get in touch with our qualified immigration experts today on (+353) 061 518 025.
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To be eligible to sponsor you, your religious body or faith community must:
- Already be established in Ireland
- Have an active membership or congregation in Ireland, including full time serving Ministers of Religion
- Have dedicated premises in Ireland serving the religious body or faith community
Your sponsor must be a body, not an individual. They will have certain responsibilities and will need to submit some documents as part of your application.
If your application is refused you will receive a refusal letter telling you this that will give you details about why your application was refused as well as whether you can appeal the decision.
The appeal process is free and you can request an appeal by responding to the refusal reasons with extra supporting documents, you must submit your appeal within 8 weeks of receiving your refusal letter.
The types of family members that you can bring with you include your spouse or partner and your children under the age of 18. The permission granted to your permitted family members will be dependent on your continued residence status. This means that if you decide to leave Ireland, your accompanying family members will also need to leave.