How on earth do I get a UK visa to ordain?

Hello everyone! This is the follow up to my first post, the one about ordaining as a nun. I am the 18 year old girl who complained about the state of the world and the economy and said she wanted to become a bhikkhuni. I still stand by that.

Since April I’ve been researching different communities, different countries where women can be ordained, etc, and I think I really vibe with Ayya Canda’s community, Anukampa Grove. I’ve watched some of the content on their YouTube channel and I really resonate with her as a teacher, and she seems like a genuine, kind hearted person. I don’t know if that’s a silly way to choose a preceptor, but I’m Gen Z, part of the digital generation, so it makes sense to me.

The UK has left the EU, so I need to get a visa to get there. This is why I’m now considering Germany as an alternative. When I search “How to get a UK visa” it says that I need to find employment to do so and all the visa options seem to be work related. How does that work for monastics exactly, since they don’t work? Is it maybe this “religious worker visa” thing?

I’m sorry if this question is stupid or unrelated to the path but I have no one to turn to in real life because I don’t have a community near me, and my sole caregiver, my grandmother is not a Buddhist and she’s not supportive. I’m just trying to figure it out? Maybe I should head to Germany instead?

Thank you for your time.


While it’s certainly good to get an overview over the possibilities via the internet, in the case of ordination it is also crucial to have some “real life” experiences. I think it’s highly recommendable to spend time, not with just one, but several communities so that you can find out what fits best for you. And while doing so, also find out how it would work for a long term visa in that place.


I think you have to apply for a Religious Worker Visa to come here


Does monastic life technically count as work though?

Work can be work for free. Not the same as paid employment.

This is not necessarily true in a legal immigration sense. It all depends on the jurisdiction.

@Amrapali it is indeed very difficult to get a visa to ordain in a country outside of Asia. Religious visas usually only apply to those who are already ordained.


So do I ordain first and then get the visa?

The only way to work it all out is to contact the monastery where you hope to live. They will have to sponsor your visa.


Could I pay for it before ordaining so I won’t be breaking any rules? I know monastics can’t use money.

Thanks for the advice!

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Really, you need to work it all out with the monastery. They will be able to explain the whole process. I can understand the desire to work out all the details in advanced. But it all depends on how the monastery can support you.


The monastery, as a religious institution, is AFAIK, submitting and applying for the visa, writing on the application a longer version of “so and so is a religious worker, their presence here would be beneficial for x, y, and z reason, they should get a visa to stay here”


I would echo that advice. I don’t know much about the UK, but here in New Zealand we only relatively recently got a religious worker immigration category (after some lobbying by Buddhist and other organisations). As Ven @Snowbird indicates, this tends to mainly applicable for religious workers who are already ordained. The monastery has to argue that the person is needed to provide religious support for the community.

So, I would echo the advice to talk with the monasteries you are interested in before taking any action.


Yeah, I did some volunteering work in the UK a number of years ago and the immigration office made me get a work permit for it. A big hassle. But perhaps beneficial in this circumstance :blush:


Singapore foreign monks use work permit pass, and put salary as zero.

You don’t need to worry about it, the monastery takes care of the monastics. Provided that it’s an vinaya abiding monastery.


Looks like you have some really life changing decisions to make, which include possible estrangement from your grandmother. As a father of two children, now in the 30’s, I understand the zeal and passion of picking a path like monastic life, especially if you feel anxiety of making your way in the world without the “safety” of a monastery and built in community. As we age, we sometimes lose that early zeal and some find themselves in situations years later in situations they can’t get out of or that leave them unprepared for the world. I would urge more caution and maybe a bit more time before making such a life changing decision. The Buddha was in his 30’s when he left home. For what it’s worth.

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29 actually. Plus 6 years of self torture, then very soon attain enlightenment at 35, taught for 45 years, before dying at 80.


Hi Amrapali,

Just a note that ordination usually takes a significant amount of time. You would likely need to stay with the community for at least three-six months for them to get to know you before you take anagarika ordination (in which you’re still allowed to use money).

If you haven’t read this page yet from Dhammadharini it might be worth getting acquainted with the timeline:

Ayya Canda is very lovely and kind and I’m sure she would be happy to have a conversation about ordination beforehand to discuss visa options.


See section If you have to apply for a Standard Visitor visa

Visit the UK as a Standard Visitor: Overview - GOV.UK (