The only pathway which allows a Religious Organisation to sponsor a Minister of Religion as an overseas skilled worker is through a labour agreement.
A Minister of Religion labour agreement allows Australian religious organisations to sponsor the temporary and permanent entry of overseas skilled workers. The terms and conditions of the agreement have already been established and are non-negotiable.
What class of visa can be applied for?
- Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)
- Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186), either where an overseas worker has held a subclass 457 visa as a primary visa holder, for a minimum period of two years, or through the subclass 186 Agreement stream.
The appropriate visa pathway will be made based on the religious organisation’s business case presented to the Department of Home Affairs.
What is a Religious Organisation?
To qualify as a Religious Organisation the Migration Regulations require:
- the activities reflect that it is a body instituted for the promotion of a religious object
- the beliefs and practices of the members of which constitute a religion due to those members:
- believing in a supernatural being, thing or principle
- accepting the canons of conduct that give effect to that belief, but that do not offend against the ordinary laws
- meet the requirements of section 50-50 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
- their income must be exempt from income tax under section 50-1 of that Act.
The Religious Organisation must provide with their request for a labour agreement a detailed organisational structure.
What skills and qualifications does the Minister of Religion need?
The Applicant is required to have a leadership role within the organisation. If there is more than one Applicant the size of the organisation and its workforce composition will be considered.
The Religious Organisations must provide:
- the title of position within their faith tradition
- A duty statement for the position
- a copy of an employment contract.
The Applicant must have:
- been ‘ordained’ or have ‘professed to a religious life’ as a minister of religion (or equivalent accreditation process within the faith tradition), and
- minimum qualifications equivalent to a relevant Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) bachelor degree, or
- undertaken at least five years of relevant structured training or instruction. Experience does not meet this criterion.
The Religious Organisation must provide details of the ordination process and the training structure.
What level of English does the Applicant have to show?
The Applicant worker must meet one of the following English language proficiency requirements:
- demonstrate an average test score of at least 5.0 in an International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or an equivalent accepted test
- hold a valid passport from one of the following countries:
- New Zealand
- The Republic of Ireland
- The United Kingdom
- The United States of America
- have completed at least five cumulative years of full-time study in a secondary and/or higher education institution where instruction was conducted in English.
A concession to English language proficiency requirements might be considered where thevisa holder will be directly serving the needs of an ethnic group and interaction within the wider Australian society will be limited – for example they are working in a cloistered or monastic environment.
What are the age requirements?
No age requirements apply when applying for a subclass 457 visa only.
Applicants must be no more than 60 years of age at time of visa application for a subclass 186 visa.
Further concessions might be considered where there is not a tradition of retirement within the faith tradition and where the needs of aged religious workers continue to be met by the religious organisation without recourse to the aged pension.
What are the terms and conditions that the Minister of Religion must be employed by the Religious Organisation?
The Applicant must receive terms and conditions of employment that are no less favourable than that provided to an Australian Minister of Religion working in the same role in the same location.
The minimum salary (for both subclasses 457 and 186) must be either:
- no less than the temporary skilled migration income threshold (TSMIT) – monetary or non-monetary benefits might be considered in the calculation of TSMIT
- where a vow of poverty is required by the wider religious organisation for the occupation, the sponsor attests that overseas workers will be provided equivalent terms and conditions to that of Australians in the same occupation in the sponsoring organisation and will provide all living needs, including board and lodging, health, education, welfare and any other costs incurred by the minister of religion.
The Religious Organisation must provide evidence of remuneration that is paid to, or would be paid to, an Australian in the same role and location.
Religious Organisations will be asked to identify nominees at the time of the request for a labour agreement.
They will not be required to:
- undertake stakeholder consultation when requesting a labour agreement
- provide evidence of meeting training benchmark requirements and obligations
- provide evidence of domestic recruitment efforts.
Contact our team today to discuss your migration matters.