Changes to the Minister of Religion application process for employer sponsored visas

Changes have been made to the application process for nominating a Minister of Religion for an employer sponsored visa.

Religious organisations who wish to bring Ministers of Religion to Australia on a temporary or permanent basis for employment must now do so via the available Ministers of Religion Industry Labour Agreement.

From 1 July 2015, the occupation of Minister of Religion (ANZSCO 272211) will be not be eligible for the Direct Entry Stream or Temporary Residence Transition stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, or the Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 visa.

Rather, religious organisations must sign up to the Minister of Religion Industry Labour Agreement before lodging a nomination for the Agreements Stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme, or to become a sponsor for the Subclass 457 visa.

These changes will uphold the integrity of our employer sponsored visa programmes and continue supporting religious organisations to meet the spiritual needs of Australia’s multicultural society.

Exemptions

Under the changes that came into effect on 1 July 2015, Ministers of Religion will no longer be exempt from the age, skill and English language requirements that were available under the Direct Entry and Temporary Residence Transition streams.

All visa applications lodged on or after 1 July 2015 must meet the standard age, skill and English language requirements or meet one of the other exemption criteria. If an applicant is nominated for the Agreement stream, they must meet the requirements as outlined in the Minister of Religion Labour Agreement in order to be granted a visa.

Applications lodged before 1 July 2015

Employer nominations and visa applications lodged before 1 July 2015 will not be affected by these changes. These nominations and visa applications will be processed under the previous arrangements.

If an employer nomination for a Minister of Religion is lodged before 1 July 2015 and is then approved, the corresponding visa application can be lodged for the relevant stream for the Employer Nomination Scheme or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.

However, visa applications lodged on or after 1 July 2015 must meet the standard age, skill and English requirements for the relevant stream. No exemptions to age, skill and English will be available to applications lodged on or after 1 July 2015.

Nominations for the Temporary Residence Transition stream from 1 July 2015 for existing subclass 457 visa holders

Employer nominations for the Temporary Residence Transition stream for a Minister of Religion are possible if the visa applicant was granted their most recent Subclass 457 visa to work as a Minister of Religion for a standard business sponsor prior to 1 July 2015. This is also the case where an application was lodged before 1 July 2015 and the Subclass 457 visa granted after this date.

More information and assistance

To find out more about the labour agreement process, see the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website here.

Interested employers or prospective visa applications may wish to engage a registered migration agent for assistance. More information about using a migration agent is available here.