Immigration Arrangements for Ministers of Religion

Please Note: These arrangements are under review and will be revised shortly.

 

Immigration Arrangements for Ministers of Religion with effect from 1 January 2011

 

Who is a minister of religion?

For immigration purposes, and under these arrangements, a "minister of religion" means a person who is a qualified/ordained/professed member of an established religion, religious institution/order/church and where the work for which the person is seeking permission to enter the State includes some of the following:

  • conducting spiritual worship/ceremonies to an established congregation in Ireland
  • giving pastoral care to members of a congregation and society by preaching, conducting classes based on a religious ethos, supervising prayer meetings, etc.
  • providing spiritual leadership
  • ministering to the spiritual needs of a congregation
  • pastoral visitation
  • providing senior administrative support of a substantial or full-time nature to a religious institution/order/church where the work would not qualify for an employment permit.

 

This list is not exhaustive and is only meant as a guide in order to assess if the person has a legitimate basis for entering Ireland under these arrangements.

 

The person seeking to come to Ireland must be a member of an established religion, religious institution/order/church that has a significant presence in Ireland and the person must show a bona fide reason to be present in Ireland under these arrangements and, where applicable, be sponsored by the head of an established religion, religious institution/order/church as a minister of religion.  It will be for the person concerned and/or the sponsor, where one exists, to establish these matters to the satisfaction of the immigration authorities.

 

The person concerned must not be engaged in activities which would be contrary to national security, public security or public order or be contrary to public policy ("ordre public").

 

These arrangements cannot be read as conferring on any person a right of entry to and residence in Ireland.  Each case will be examined on its merits.

 

 

1. Transitional Arrangements

Persons who are in the State as ministers of religion currently hold immigration Stamp 3. Those persons who were lawfully present in the State prior to 1 January 2011 may have their permission to remain in Ireland renewed for a further 12 months when it next comes up for renewal. Subject to meeting the conditions in par. 2 below, persons in this category may be given a further 12 months renewal of their immigration permission for subsequent years.

 

Dependant family members of a minister of religion who are currently in the State may also be given a further 12 months renewal of their immigration for subsequent years.  This is applicable only where the person is still a family member of a person who meets the conditions in par. 2 following.

 

2. Renewal conditions for Ministers of Religion present in the State with immigration permission prior to 1 January 2011

In order to renew immigration permission the person concerned must meet each and all of the following conditions:

 

(a)  The person is continuing only to perform duties as a minister of religion for which he/she was initially allowed to enter the State. Employment in the general labour market is not permitted.

 

(b)  The person has not been and will not be an undue burden on the State.  A person who is not in receipt of financial or other relevant support from their religion, religious institution/order/church, or is not financially independent, may be refused further permission to remain.

 

(c)  The person has private medical insurance to cover him/herself and any family members who have immigration permission to reside in the State.  The medical insurance cover may be taken out personally by the person concerned or come within a group scheme organised by the sponsoring religion, religious institution/order/church.

 

(d) There are no concerns about the person in terms of an adverse Garda record or other concerns related to national security, public security, public order or public policy ("ordre public").

 

3. Persons seeking permission to enter Ireland on or after 1 January 2011 as Ministers of Religion

Visa required nationals:
Where a person requires an Irish visa the following documentation must be submitted with the visa application.

(a) Valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining on the passport from date of entry to the State,

and

(b) An original letter of sponsorship, on headed paper, from the religious institution/order/church or a letter from the person concerned explaining precisely the basis on which they are seeking to come to the State

and

confirming if there is a genuine position in Ireland available for the person concerned and the duration of the position,

and

confirming that the sponsoring religious institution/order/church will be responsible for the financial upkeep and accommodation expenses of the person concerned, or in the absence of such confirmation a clear written explanation of how the person would support him/herself in the State,

and

confirming that the position which the person will be filling is the sole purpose of their stay in Ireland,

and 

indicating the general size and location(s) of the congregation in Ireland.

 

It is the responsibility of the applicant to satisfy the visa officer as to why the visa should issue. Each visa application will be assessed on its merits. There can be no guarantee that these arrangements will result in the granting of a visa. Applications are dealt with on a case by case basis. All relevant information available to the visa officer will be taken into account when making a decision.

 

Non-visa required nationals:

A person who is a non-visa required national, on seeking entry to the State, must present the documentation above (as for a visa required national) to the immigration officer at the port of entry.  Possession of the documentation listed above is not a guarantee that entry permission will be granted.  That is a decision to be made by the immigration officer concerned at the port of entry. In general, the factors and considerations taken into account in making a decision on entry permission for a non-visa required national will be similar to those taken into account in a visa application.

 

It is the responsibility of the person concerned to satisfy the immigration officer at the port of entry as to why permission to enter the State should be given.

 

4. Persons granted permission to enter Ireland on or after 1 January 2011 as Ministers of Religion  

Ministers of religion who are permitted to enter Ireland on or after 1 January 2011 will be permitted to remain for a maximum of 3 years (but see part 5 below). Immigration permission, if granted, will be for 12 months at a time. Immigration Stamp 3 will be issued.

 

The following conditions will apply to the grant and renewal of permission to reside in the State for those persons arriving on or after 1 January 2011:

 

(a) The person is continuing to carry out duties in his/her capacity as a minister of religion for which he/she was initially allowed to enter the State. Employment outside of the religion, sponsoring religious institution/order/church, is not permitted.

(b) The person has not been and will not be an undue burden on the State. The person can have permission to remain only on the basis that he or she is either supported by a sponsoring religion, religious institution/order/church or is otherwise financially self-sufficient and will not need to rely on State financial support while in the State.

(c) The person has private medical insurance to cover him/herself in the State and any family members who have immigration permission. The medical insurance cover may be taken out personally by the person concerned or be part of a group scheme organised by the sponsoring religious institution/order/church.  At each renewal evidence of private medical insurance for the previous and the following years will be required.

(d) There are no concerns about the person in terms of an adverse Garda record or other concerns related to national security, public security, public order or public policy ("ordre public").

 

Dependant family members:

The spouse/partner and child under 18 years of age may be permitted to join the minister of religion in the State. Each case of family reunification will be assessed on its merits. In respect of the family member, the conditions at (b), (c) and (d) above will apply. However, a child may attend State school. The family member, if permitted to come to the State, must leave when the minister of religion leaves the State.

 

5. Seeking further permission to remain in the State (i.e. after 3 years permission)

Ministers of religion who entered Ireland on or after 1 January 2011 will be able to seek further permission to remain after 3 years. Each case will be considered on its merits and there must be a demonstrated exceptional need for the person to remain to carry out the functions for which they originally entered the State. For example, an exceptional need might arise where the person concerned has particular experience or expertise or where it is not possible to otherwise fill the position.

 

The sponsoring church or organisation must give a detailed explanation on its official headed paper as to why the person needs to remain beyond the 3 year period and the duties that the person will be carrying out which must be in line with those already outlined above under the heading "who is a minister of religion?".

 

Confirmation is required:

(a) That he/she has completed 3 years continuous residence in the State under these arrangements. The person's passport must show 3 years of immigration permission on Stamp 3 basis,

and

(b) That he/she continues to be a member of an established religion, religious institution/order/church and continues to have a bona fide reason for remaining in the State under these arrangements,

and 

(c) That he/she has been performing duties directly related to that religion, religious institution/order/church during the 3 years residence in the State

and

(d) That he/she continues to be supported in terms of financial upkeep and accommodation expenses by the relevant religion, religious institution/order/church or, in the absence of such confirmation, a clear written explanation of how the person can support him/herself in the State to include any accompanying family members (if applicable)

and

(e) That the family has not become an undue burden on the State while in Ireland.

 

Applications for extensions of time after 3 years must be in writing and sent to General Immigration Division, Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.  Each case will be assessed on its merits.

 

Important Note:

 

It is the responsibility of every non-EEA national to keep their immigration permission up to date at all times. 

 

14 December 2012

 

Amended 09 January 2015