Visas For Ministers Of Religion – Case Study
In Australia, the only legitimate 457 for a ‘Minister of Religion’ is via a Labour Agreement. This agreement allows Australian religious organisations to sponsor the temporary and eventually permanent entry of overseas skilled workers and it is one of the few options for PR when you are over the age of 45. There is also a temporary visa that has a specific Minister of Religion Stream which is a lot easier for religious organisations to access than the 457.
In the eyes of the Department Ministers of Religion include Chaplains, Imams, Monks, Priests, Pastors and Rabbis just to name a few.
Unfortunately not all migration agents/lawyers know this, and we met our client after they received some bad advice from another migration agent/lawyer.
Our client already had a 457 granted however, it came to our attention that the grounds under which the visa was applied for and subsequently granted were inappropriate. Our client received advice from a different agent and our client’s duties were misrepresented in the 457 nomination and application. If DIBP investigated this, our client would be at risk of visa cancellation and subsequent exclusion periods due to this false information. Often when trying to apply for PR through the 186 this is where DIBP pick up on problems with the 457.
When this client came to us, our first aim was to quickly get rid of the visa cancellation risk. Of course, an accurate representation of his occupation needed to be made. This was achieved by applying for the 408 Temporary Activity Visa, allowing for him to be correctly listed as a Minister for Religion – not a bogus title (again it seems the other agent was not even aware of this visa subclass existing). One of the other reasons we chose this visa is because it has a relatively quick processing time. Other things to note about the 408 visa is that is has no minimum salary requirement unlike the 457’s $53,900 minimum, thereby making it more accessible to religious organisations who cannot afford such a high salary for missionaries etc.
Unfortunately, the 408 visa does not provide a direct pathway for permanent residence (although it does provide the visa holder’s spouse with full time work rights). It was then our challenge to help our client achieve their goal of PR.
As this particular religious organisation was located in a regional area an application for a Regional visa 187 RSMS was then made. Not only is this a permanent residency application, but it has more occupations to choose from than the 457 visa allows. Simply put, our client’s spouse could have her duties in the religious organisation accurately listed as it aligned with an occupation on the RSMS list. If the religious organisation was not in a regional area, for a permanent visa, we would have to negotiate a labour agreement for the church. The labour agreement is still an option for this church but the RSMS meant that this applicant in particular could apply for PR straight away. Stay tuned for when we get to celebrate visa grant.