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Non-settlement UK visa for 'pujaris' soon

The new measures would benefit 'pujaris' who lead worship on the altar or perform sacramental rites, or 'bhandaris' who are trained cooks.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2005 13:29 IST

Taking into consideration the suggestions made by Hindu organisations, British government proposes to introduce a new non-settlement visa for religious workers to cover persons who do not actively preach in the front line but perform "non-pastoral" duties.

The new measures would benefit 'pujaris' who lead worship on the altar or perform sacramental rites, or 'bhandaris' who are trained cooks.

Under the proposed rules, religious workers will not be required to qualify for English language tests, and can apply for two year visas of a non-settlement nature.

The proposals were unveiled on by Minister for Immigration and Nationality at the Home Office Tony McNulty to introduce changes to the immigration rules for Ministers of Religion from abroad.

The other two changes being considered, subject to Parliamentary approval are, extending the time limit for citizenship tests to four years for Ministers of Religion from abroad, from the original notion of two years. This would be in keeping with immigration rules for normal applications.

Besides, it plans to introduce a pre-qualification criteria and an accreditation process for Ministers of religion that will be customised to suit each faith tradition.

The Hindu Forum of Britain has broadly welcomed these proposals. "We informed the minister at the meeting on Monday that we are pleased that the Home Office has listened to our views and acted appropriately," Ramesh Kallidai, Secretary General of the Forum said in a statement on Tuesday.

First Published: Dec 20, 2005 11:09 IST