BY Peter Diamond | July 19 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Church meets with immigration minister over supply priest chaos

The government 'appears unwilling to move' on a visa issue which has hit parishes across Scotland, the Church has said after meeting with the UK immigration minister.

A member of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland met with the UK Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes MP, to discuss an ongoing dispute over changes to the visa system.

The changes have made it harder for supply priests to obtain the right to work in the UK and has led to reduced summer Masses in Glasgow and Motherwell dioceses.


Visa changes

In January the UK Government introduced a change in regulations, which meant that visiting clergy could no long enter the UK via the Tier 5 visa route and would instead have to apply via the more expensive and cumbersome Tier 2.

Tier 5 visas are issued for temporary work, no longer than 12 months, and were previously open to ‘ministers of religion.’

Tier 2 is for long-term work visas and for ministers of religion.

A debate at Westminster Hall on the issue took place on Thursday July 4.


Church response

A spokesman for the Church in Scotland said: “A representative of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland met with the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes MP, and representations were made in relation to the UK Government’s new immigration policy.

“Concerns were expressed about the difficulties encountered by parishes and communities across Scotland following the introduction of the new policy, however, the government appears unwilling to move at present.

“We continue to engage with government and other stakeholders with a view to finding a solution that works for all parties.”

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