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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:01 pm on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Home Department 4:01 pm, 4th July 2019

I completely understand that point, which was raised earlier. The Government’s position is that it is important that the same rules apply to all, in the interests of fairness, hence the test centre requirements. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that exemptions exist where applicants have been awarded a recognised degree.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the root of the changes introduced in January 2019 was the June 2018 Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consultation on the integrated communities strategy. The Green Paper set out the Government’s intention to strengthen English language skills by supporting UK residents and strengthening requirements for those who wish to come here. The rationale behind that approach is that ministers of religion play a visible role in our religious institutions and must therefore be able to integrate with the wider communities in which they live and serve, rather than only being able to speak to their congregations.