Lords Question Progress on Clergy Visas for Diocese of Europe
On Tuesday 13 April, the matter of securing visas allowing clergy with UK citizenship to serve or reside in EU countries post-Brexit was brought forward during questioning by the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines.
Bishop Baines’ questioned: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of new (1) visa, and (2) residence permit regimes for United Kingdom citizens working in the European Union on the numbers of Church of England clergy securing permits?”
On behalf of the Government, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon answered: “My Lords, the withdrawal agreement protects UK nationals who were lawfully resident in the EU before the end of the transition period. Thirteen member states require them to apply for new resident status. British citizens travelling to the EU for work may need visas or permits from relevant member states. Member states are, of course, responsible for implementing their domestic immigration systems, and the UK does not hold information on the specific occupations of UK nationals abroad.”
Bishop Baines thanked the Minister for his answer and explained further the problem.
“This is of course a question that goes wider than the Church, but left us consider a diocese in Europe supporting UK citizens which is now unable to assign clergy for locum duty, for example, because of the lack of clarity regarding work permits. How do the Government intend to support UK citizens in what was an inevitable outcome of the withdrawal agreement? Can the Minister give any practical encouragement to the Bishop in Europe as he seeks to resolve these issues?”
Lord Ahmad responded by assuring Bishop Baines of the Government’s close working with the Church of England and that embassies are providing “direct and relevant support.”
The Church of England’s Diocese of Europe ministers in over 40 nations to almost 300 congregations.