Visa Options for sponsoring a Minister of Religion or Religious Assistant to work in Australia

Visa Options for sponsoring a Minister of Religion or Religious Assistant to work in Australia

The Subclass 408 Religious Worker visa specially caters to Ministers of Religion or Religious Assistants.  However, this is a temporary visa with no immediate pathway for Australian permanent residency.

The ‘standard’ employment sponsorship PR visa program is also not available for these occupations.

However, there is a viable alternative through a Labour Agreement. 

A Labour Agreement is a special arrangement between an Australian Employer and the Department of Home Affairs that enables churches or faith organisations to provide its ministry staff a pathway for Australian permanent residency (Subclass 186).

Once the ministry staff have exhausted their 408 Religious Worker visas, they may apply for a TSS 482 visa, and subsequently a permanent 186 visa, both through a single Labour Agreement. 


The Labour Agreement was previously only available to the most senior leader within a church or organisation under the occupation of a Minister of Religion.

The Department has broadened the scope of eligible occupations to now include Religious Assistants. Examples of Religious Assistants include:

  • Executive Pastors
  • Worship Pastors
  • Youth Pastors
  • Associate Pastors
  • Chaplains


A key criterion to become a Labour Agreement sponsor is that the organisation must be a religious institution with charitable status and provide reasons as to why the position cannot be filled locally.

There are other requirements for minimum remuneration and qualifications as well as skills of the nominee. These requirements differ depending on whether you are sponsoring a Minister of Religion or a Religious Assistant.

If you would like to find out more, please feel free to reach out to us to discuss your case further.


The standard TSS 482 visa is still a viable option for many churches and faith organisation to sponsor in the nominated occupation other than a Minister of Religion or Religious Assistant.  These can include, for example Graphic Designers, Marketing Specialist, Media Directors, etc. 


If you are looking to invite overseas guests to speak at conferences, events or as short-term visiting lecturers at a Bible college, they should apply for Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) subclass 400 visa.

It is a common mistake to assume that overseas guests can enter Australia on a Visitor visa or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). However, such activities are generally considered ‘work’, even if it they only received an honorarium or gift offering.  This could lead to their visas being cancelled and being denied immigration clearance into Australia as a breach of the “No Work” condition which is attached to all visitor visas.  

To avoid being denied entry into Australia and potentially being subject to the 3-year ban from Australia, do reach out to us for immigration advice and assistance.


At Agile Legal, we are a team of specialised immigration lawyer who have successfully assisted many churches in sponsoring overseas talents and ministry staff to live and work in Australia.

As the process to sponsor an overseas Minister of Religion or Ministry Staff is complicated, please do not hesitate to contact us at for your immigration enquiries.

We are here to help.

Who are we?

Agile Legal Consulting is a boutique law firm in the heart of Melbourne CBD.  We support and assist our clients in all areas of law, with a specialisation in immigration law, commercial law, and property law. 

Led by our Accredited Immigration Law Specialist – Jensen Ma (LPN 5511737/MARN 9802879), together with a dedicated immigration law team with over 60 years of collective experience, we are passionate about providing our clients with comprehensive, client-focused solutions. 

Our multi-lingual lawyers offer assistance on a broad spectrum of immigration matters.  Come speak to us in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean or Bahasa Melayu – we are always available to answer your questions.