There are many members of the Conference who are undertaking this important apostolate to all the new arrivals in our community and they are providing a number of different services, from befriending, to readjustment courses to language support. They respond pro-actively to needs as they arise.
Points Based System of Immigration
We are working closely with the Office of the Bishops’ Conference on all matters related to the Points-Based System (PBS).
An important new work this year has been the involvement of the Conference along with the members of the Bishops’ Conference and other church groups in negotiations with the Home Office on the introduction of the new Points Based System for managed migration which will have a significant impact on the movement of Religious around the world as they undertake their ministry here.
Regulations are not yet finalised but much work has been done clarifying the situation of Religious to the Home Office and where possible amending the new system to meet their needs.
The Secretariat has been able to provide guidance and support to members on this significant change in the law on immigration throughout the year. Abbot Martin Shipperlee made an informative and helpful presentation to members at the GM in September. These changes could have an important impact on the capacity for religious to bring in non- EEA nationals.
Some guidelines for religious on what the ‘Points Based System of Immigration’ is about
This is a change to the UK’s immigration system. It replaces the current system of work permits for non-EEA nationals and will allow migrants to work in the UK in jobs where they are needed. It is being introduced in 2008 and 2009. The system operates under five tiers; the two tiers that are relevant to religious are Tier 2, Skilled Workers (which includes Ministers of Religion) and Tier 5, Youth Mobility and Temporary Workers (for short-term religious workers).
Congregation Leaders or their authorised representatives are required to register as sponsors with the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Once licensed, they are able to issue certificates of sponsorship (which consists of a number generated by the UKBA sponsorship management system) to those coming into the country under their auspices. The sponsor is responsible to the UKBA for those they sponsor, including keeping records and reporting to them as need arises.
A migrant applies from their own country to come to work in the UK providing information that shows they have the required number of points for the tier. For ‘Ministers of Religion’ and ‘religious workers’, points are awarded for a certificate of sponsorship, for meeting the English language requirement, and for meeting initial support cost levels or showing that support will be provided by the sponsor.
Registering as a sponsor
The registration process requires the authorising officer:
Fees are payable to register as a sponsor and for each certificate of sponsorship issued. At the time of writing the fees are as follows.
For details of Registration Costs and costs for a Certificate of Sponsorship refer to www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk. It is more cost effective to register for Tier 2 and Tier 5 at the same time
The sponsor has to undertake to keep records about its PBS employees and to report, for example, if the worker is absent from work and cannot be traced.
Sponsors will be rated either A or B. These ratings will be based on whether the sponsor has the correct systems to ensure that it will be able to meet its sponsorship duties and whether the sponsor is complying with or has previously complied with the work permit arrangements and other immigration law.
Once a licence is issued, it is valid for four years from the date of issue or the date of the relevant tier arrangements going live, if later.
You will need to renew your licence after four years if you wish to continue to employ migrants. If you no longer employ a migrant, you can surrender your licence at any point.
Tier 2 Skilled workers including ‘ministers of religion’
This tier applies not only to any clergy you may be recruiting who are non-EEA nationals but also to musicians such as organists and lay clerks, to some members of religious orders and to other skilled ‘religious’ workers. Sponsorship under this tier can lead to settlement.
All migrants need to take the resident migrant test - UKBA can give further guidance on what is appropriate for religious institutions.
A certificate of sponsorship can be issued for up to three years. If a migrant wishes to stay for longer, he/ she can apply to extend their permission to stay but will require a new certificate of sponsorship. Once a migrant has been working in the UK for five years, he/ she can apply for settlement (permanent leave to remain). There are transitional arrangements for those who are currently working in the UK under work permit arrangements.
Full details are available on the UKBA website – www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk
A migrant must apply to enter the UK to take up a job under Tier 2 from the country in which he or she is normally resident. This means that a person to whom an organisation has made a job offer following a job interview here must return home in order to apply to come back to the UK to take up the job.
Tier 2 ‘Ministers of Religion’ migrants will be allowed to work outside their normal working hours in the same sector and at the same level without requiring a second certificate of sponsorship.
If a migrant works in another sector (for example, as an accountant) then their second employer must also be a registered sponsor and the migrant must be issued with another certificate of sponsorship and meet the points based criteria (including the Resident Labour Market Test) for that other employment. If a migrant is already working legally in the UK, he/ she need not return to their own country to apply to enter the UK to work in the second employment; he/ she can apply within the UK.
Tier 5 Youth Mobility and Temporary Workers including religious workers
This tier will apply if you recruit, for example, short-term youth workers. Sponsorship under this tier does not lead to settlement.
A migrant admitted under Tier 5 Religious Worker will be entitled to stay in the UK for up to 24 months provided they continue to work for you throughout this time. Their certificate of sponsorship cannot be extended beyond the maximum permitted 24 months.
Tier 5 Religious workers will be allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week outside their normal working hours in the same sector and at the same level without requiring a second certificate of sponsorship. If a migrant works in another sector then their second employer must also be a registered sponsor and the migrant must be issued with another certificate of sponsorship and meet the points based criteria for that other employment.
With effect from November 2008, religious workers who are based outside the EEA can visit the UK for up to 6 months under the Business Visitor category of the Visitors route, provided they do not take up an office, post or appointment and any work is consistent with a temporary absence from their employment abroad. This is not a route to settlement, and migrants are not allowed to switch from this route into another route.
When Religious are applying for sponsorship the COR office is able to supply a certificate/letter in support of the application to the UK Border Agency (Section on hierarchy support, bona fide membership of a religious order), just email your request for this to the office and we will post it on to you.
(The information we receive from UKBA is constantly being updated)
COR members involved with helping migrants
The following religious members have indicated their involvement to date:
The Society of the Sacred Heart
Sr. Margaret Healy SSL
Sr. Eileen O’Doherty
2 Sisters in London
Polish Sister working in Shrewsbury diocese.