Residing as a Minister of Religion in Ireland
For those who wish to reside in Ireland as a Minister of Religion, it is possible to work with an eligible religious body or faith community for up to three years (with the potential to extend this for a further three years).
However, the specific requirements for this immigration permission depends on how long you wish to remain in the State for.
Those who intend to work as a Minister of Religion in Ireland are required to engage in all or the majority of the following duties and responsibilities for an established congregation:
- Conduct spiritual worship and/or ceremonies to an established congregation
- Offer pastoral care to members of an established congregation (in the form of preaching)
- Conduct classes based on a religious ethos, supervising prayer meetings etc.
- Spiritual leadership
- Minister to the spiritual needs of an established congregation
- Pastoral visitation
- Provide senior administration support of a full-time nature to a religious institution/order/church
- Be a member of a religious community whose members take public vows of poverty, chastity and obedience
For those who wish to reside in Ireland for over three months (90 days) as a Minister of Religion, it is essential to apply for preclearance.
One of IAS’ immigration lawyers in Ireland can take you through the application process for preclearance and any further applications that you may be required to submit.
Our extensive experience means that we are well equipped to provide relevant, accurate and up-to-date legal advice and assistance.
Do I need to apply for preclearance to reside as a Minister of Religion in Ireland?
When you have been offered a job with an eligible religious body or faith community in Ireland as a Minister of Religion, you must seek prior approval – known as preclearance – from INIS (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service).
This must be applied for before travelling to Ireland and you may be required to provide proof of residence outside of the State.
While your preclearance application is being processed, it is essential that you remain outside of Ireland.
Every non-EEA national who intends to work as a Minister of Religion in Ireland must apply for preclearance regardless of whether they are from a visa required or non-visa required country.
Your preclearance approval letter is what you must provide when arriving to Ireland; in order to be granted entry to the State, you must produce this preclearance approval letter to an immigration officer at the border.
A significant amount of supporting documentation is required when making your application for preclearance to reside as a Minister of Religion in Ireland.
It is of the utmost importance that your application is accurate and does not contain any mistakes or inconsistencies.
If your application is perceived as containing false or inaccurate information, it may result in you being prevented from making any further applications for a period of up to 5 years.
For this reason, it is highly recommended that you seek the professional advice of an immigration expert – IAS is here to help.
What are the requirements for a preclearance application?
When applying for preclearance, you must provide a sponsorship letter from the religious body/faith community that has invited you.
This sponsorship letter must detail:
- That there is a demonstratable need for the person who is applying
- That the applicant is suitably qualified to perform the duties and responsibilities expected
- Evidence that the applicant has a clean police record
- That child protection policies are in place in the religious body/faith community
- That the applicant is cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults
- That the applicant (and their immediate family) will be supported through the sponsor of funds and/or accommodation throughout the duration of their time in Ireland
Some key documents also required when making your application for preclearance are:
- A full colour copy of your current passport and of all previous passports
- Proof that you are financially supported by the sponsoring organisation within Ireland
- Your bank statements over the last six months
- Audited accounts of the sponsor over the last six months
- Evidence of educational qualifications
- Evidence of at least three years’ experience as a Minister of Religion
- Police Clearance Certificate
- Evidence of medical/travel insurance for you and any permitted family members
- Details regarding previous visa refusals or deportations if applicable
Do I need a visa to be a Minister of Religion in Ireland?
Once you have secured your preclearance approval letter, you may then need to apply for an entry visa which, again, must be acquired before travelling to Ireland.
This depends on whether you are from a visa required or a non-visa required country. As explained previously, all non-EEA nationals – regardless of whether they are from a visa required country or not – must apply for preclearance.
However only those non-EEA nationals who are from visa required countries are subject to the additional requirement of applying for a Minister of Religion visa.
Those who are resident in countries where biometrics are recorded as part of the visa application process – including China, India, Pakistan and Nigeria – must apply for their Minister of Religion visa at the same time that they make their preclearance application.
If you submitted all the required supporting documentation with your preclearance application, you will not need to submit the documentation again for the visa application. You will simply need to submit your visa application form and your passport.
One of IAS’ immigration experts can take you through the visa application, ensuring that you meet all necessary requirements and have provided sufficient documentation.
How do I serve as a religious volunteer in Ireland?
If you wish to serve as a religious volunteer in Ireland, you must apply through a separate process – the Volunteering in Ireland scheme. If you are granted permission under this scheme, this allows you to volunteer with an eligible organisation for up to two years.
This is not for those who wish to stay in Ireland as a religious volunteer for under three months – it is only to be applied for by those who wish to stay for over three months.
Before travelling to Ireland, those who wish to serve as a religious volunteer must apply for preclearance whilst they are outside of the State.
It is essential that you are granted preclearance approval as a long stay volunteer prior to entering Ireland, as you will need to provide this letter of approval to an immigration officer at the border upon arrival.
You must meet the following requirements to be considered eligible to serve as a religious volunteer in Ireland:
- You are aged 18 or older and a non-EEA citizen
- You have been offered volunteering work by an eligible organisation and will be fully supported financially for the entire duration of your stay by this organisation
- You are qualified and able to do the activities expected of you and have medical insurance to cover you for the duration of your stay
- You are of good character and are cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults (if necessary for your role)
Can my family join me as a Minister of Religion in Ireland?
If you wish to be joined by your family in Ireland and they are from a visa required country, they must apply for long stay Join Family visas after you have received your preclearance permission and before they travel to Ireland. They must submit all the required supporting documentation for a Join Family visa.
If they are granted a Join Family visa, they must then apply for permission to stay in Ireland once they have entered the State. If successful, their permission will then be dependent on your immigration permission. This means that if your permission is withdrawn or if you do not renew your permission, both you and your family must leave Ireland.
If your family members who intend to join you in Ireland are citizens of a non-visa required country, they do not need to apply for a Join Family visa or any other type of visa before joining or accompanying you in the State. They must simply follow the standard procedure of presenting themselves to an Immigration Officer at the port of entry and then applying for permission to stay here when they register with immigration.
Again, if they are successfully granted permission to remain in Ireland, their permission will then be dependent on your permission.
What are the requirements for those who wish to sponsor me as a Minister of Religion in Ireland?
Non-EEA nationals who wish to work as a Minister of Religion in Ireland must have been offered this position by an eligible religious body or faith community.
This religious body or faith community must:
- Already be established in Ireland
- Have an active membership or congregation in Ireland
- Have dedicated premises in Ireland serving the religious body or faith community
Your sponsor – the religious body or faith community – cannot be an individual, it must be a body.
Your sponsor is responsible for you throughout the duration of your stay in Ireland and is responsible for ensuring that you leave the State when your immigration permission is due to expire.
Your sponsor is required to fully cooperate with the State and must provide a Letter of Sponsorship with your preclearance application, as detailed previously.
As your sponsor, the religious body/faith community can include you in their group insurance scheme, meaning that they would provide your medical insurance cover during your stay in Ireland.
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After you have received preclearance approval and have secured your Minister of Religion visa (if you are from a visa required country), you must register your immigration permission once you have entered the State.
Registering is what permits you to remain in Ireland for over 3 months (90 days) and is what provides you with clear conditions of your permission depending on which immigration stamp you are provided with.
Those who are granted permission to remain in Ireland as Ministers of Religion will likely be given Stamp 3 permissions.
Under this stamp, the individual cannot work or engage in any business, trade or profession. Stamp 3 indicates a temporary form of immigration permission however it is reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation.
This means that any time spent in Ireland as a Minister of Religion under Stamp 3 immigration permission would count towards an application for citizenship/naturalisation.
For more information on your Stamp 3 immigration permissions, contact IAS on (+353) 061 518 025.
Whilst you are residing in Ireland as a Minister of Religion, you must not:
- Engage in any other paid work except your Minister of Religion role
- Bring any family member with you unless they are your spouse, partner or a child who is under 18
- Switch to a different immigration permission during your stay
- Change the religious body/faith community you work for whilst in Ireland
- Apply for permission to remain as a volunteer after your Minister of Religion immigration permission expires
- Rely on public services or claim any state benefits for you (or your family if applicable)
If you are unsure regarding any of your immigration permissions, an IAS immigration lawyer in Ireland can provide the clarity and insight you need, offering expert legal advice.
Call us on (+353) 061 518 025.
IAS’ immigration law specialists have extensive experience when it comes to securing immigration permission in Ireland. This includes helping those who wish to work as a Minister of Religion in the State.
The process can be both time-consuming and difficult, with a substantial amount of paperwork required to be submitted in order to be considered for permission to remain under this route.
Whether you require help with applying for preclearance or applying for a Minister of Religion visa – or perhaps with both – IAS’ team of outstanding, approachable and dedicated immigration experts are here to help.
We can provide advice sessions both in person and via Skype or telephone.
Our application package is also ideal for those who need practical assistance with a visa or preclearance application.
We have completed and submitted preclearance and Minister of Religion visa applications many times and know exactly which subtle yet crucial mistakes are to be avoided.
Any application that we complete and submit for you will also be accompanied by a Letter of Representation, outlining the strengths of your application and indicating why you ought to be considered for this immigration permission.
To get in touch with one of our immigration specialists, please call us on (+353) 061 518 025.