Carol Monaghan MP highlights damaging reforms to the religious worker visa

Carol Monaghan MP has spoken in a Westminster Hall debate on changes to Tier 5 Religious Worker Visas by the UK Government.

You can watch the speech here:

The damaging reforms to the religious worker visa are failing faith communities in Glasgow North West and across Scotland. Since the changes came into effect last December – whereby Ministers of Religion were removed from the eligibility criteria for tier 5 entry visas to the UK – church ministers have been struggling to get visas to enter the UK.

Previously faith communities were able to invite religious leaders from overseas under the tier 5 temporary work visa, at a cost of £244, to provide supply cover for religious services while community faith leaders were away for short breaks or unavailable. However, under new Home Office rules, religious leaders on supply placements will now be required to use the £610 tier 2 long-term work visa route – more than double the cost and making supply cover effectively unaffordable for many faith communities.

The policy has resulted in faith leaders being unable to take breaks or reduced worship schedules, as well as severely limiting the opportunity for faith leaders from developing countries to gain experience and income in the UK.

Commenting after the debate, Carol Monaghan MP said:

“It is astounding that even after my colleagues and I relayed the concerns of faith leaders from our constituencies and across the UK on the changes to the religious work visa system the Tories are still denying that there is a problem.

“The Tories’ reforms are disproportionately causing issues for faith communities across Scotland and the rest of the UK – many are struggling to pay the new higher cost resulting in faith leaders being unable to take breaks or a reduction in services while the parish priest or religious leader is away.

“Churches provide a vital lifeline for many elderly or vulnerable people, and any reduction in services as a result of these visa changes will increase loneliness and isolation amongst these groups.”

“The UK government must immediately reverse these damaging changes to allow faith leaders in the UK to take breaks and faith leaders from overseas to gain experience here, and keep much-needed faith communities running smoothly.”

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