Tier 5 Religious Worker Visas — [Mike Gapes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:44 pm on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 3:44 pm, 4th July 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gapes. I had not intended to speak, so thank you for giving me the time to do so. I will be very brief and ask the Minister just a few questions.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a gurdwara in my constituency that has found it difficult to bring priests in. The point about the tier 5 visa is that such priests read from the holy book, which is not in English, so they are required to speak the Sikh language—the Punjabi language. The priests want to be here for only a short time. Having heard everything that hon. Members have said, would the Minister consider interim measures? Otherwise, can he say how I can bring in the priests? They have been refused twice, and there is a new system in place. How is it possible for them to come here? I have been told by those at the gurdwara that they are desperate to get them in. No other member of the congregation can perform the function that the priests can undertake.

Could the Minister also say what is happening to the licence system? Is it currently suspended? Many gurdwaras and other religious places apply under a licence, under which there are checks and balances to ensure that they can bring in their religious workers. What is happening to that system? Finally, could the Minister arrange for the Minister for Immigration to meet hon. Members as soon as possible to discuss our individual cases?