Skilled Migration Process

Religions Labour Agreement

Religions Labour Agreement

The Minister of Religion Labour Agreement (MoRLA) allows religious organisations to sponsor overseas workers for periods of up to four years and also provides a pathway to permanent residency (PR). Originally, under this agreement only occupation of Minister of Religion (ANZSCO 272211), including Bishops, could be nominated. On 8 March 2019, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs has announced several changes to MoRLA that included an addition of a Religious Assistant (ANZSCO 451816) occupation. The new changes, that took effect on 11 March 2019, will help religious institutions to address theological skills shortages by broadening and relaxing some of the occupation requirements.
Australia Religions Labour Agreement


The new arrangements do not change the existing requirement to meet the definition of a ‘religious organisation’:

Sponsorship Requirements
  • Be a body instituted for the promotion of a religious object
  • The beliefs and practices of members constitute a religion and do not offend against the ordinary laws
  • Meet the requirements of section 50-50 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
  • Be exempt from income tax under section 50-1 of that Act
  • Provide evidence of Australian business registration and charitable status
Sponsorship Concessions
  • Labour Market Testing (LMT) is not required
  • The Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy is not applicable
Sponsors also need to meet salary requirements and demonstrate why the nominated position cannot be filled by an Australian worker. A full concession from salary requirements may be awarded where a vow of poverty is declared by the nominee (not applicable to Religious Assistant occupation).

Occupation Requirements

A nominee for Minister of Religion occupation is no longer required to work in the most senior position in a specified location, but instead is required to work in any senior position.

Minister of Religion Criteria
  • Have been ‘ordained’ or have ‘professed to a religious life’ as a minister of religion¹
  • Minimum qualifications equivalent to an Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) bachelor degree²
  • Have undertaken at least five years of relevant structured training or instructions
¹Bishops must have been ordained for at least five years.   ²Bishops must have a post-graduate degree.

Religious Assistant Criteria
  • Minimum qualifications equivalent to an Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) Certificate II or III
  • Have at least two years of relevant training or experience

Other Criteria

  • For TSS visa must meet English language requirements in place for the Short-term stream of the TSS visa unless a concession is awarded on the basis of working in a cloistered or monastic environment
  • For ENS must demonstrate an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall test score of at least 5.0 with a score of at least 4.5 in each of the four test components, or equivalent

PR Pathway

According to the announcement, currently there are more than 23,000 Ministers of Religion in Australia and this number is expected to grow in the next three years. Even stronger growth is anticipated for the number of religious assistants positions. Under MoRLA TSS visas can be granted for up to 4 year and permanent residence is available via Labour Agreement stream of the ENS visa after three year transitional period. However, the decision on which visa pathway is more appropriate is made by the religious organisations themselves and is based on their circumstances.

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