Visas for monks?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
Post Reply
2600htz
Posts: 834
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:37 pm

Visas for monks?

Post by 2600htz »

Hi all:

Question:

I always imagined most countries probably had special treatment in terms of providing visas or residency to fully religious people - like priest or monks - , mainly because of humanitary reasons and them not being fully "part of the system". Maybe that was not the case if the country was on war or very extremist.

But now im not so sure. For example:

Lets say a monk from asia wants to take permanent residence on an american monastery. Is a fairly possible thing? Or a very hard thing to do.

Or lets say some african or south american man wants to ordain on a UK monastery and remain there the rest of his life.
Can he do it?

Thank you all.
BKh
Posts: 770
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 12:43 am

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by BKh »

Visas are very problematic for monastics from and to most countries. I'm not even sure if Buddhist countries offer much of a benefit to monastics, although they will certainly be less hostile than other countries.

Some countries have special religious class visas, but they aren't always that much easier. For the most part countries want to keep out people who will not be "paying their way" in society and few will recognize the benefits of monastics living in a country. Some will require that the organization prove that they have sought to fill their gap with a local applicant. And some will require a market rate salary be paid to the visa holder.

These religious class visas almost always require that a specific official religious organization sponsor the monastic.

In the case of Canada, they have started a new policy for permanent residents that excludes religious workers from eligibility. (Well, they aren't excluded per se, but those occupations are not on the approved list, so defacto excluded.)

And even travel visas can be difficult for monastics because they, by design, have no strong ties to their home country that would ensure they leave the country when the visa is up. Really it comes down to the "quality" of the passport. Easier for EU/US/etc passport holders to get visas and harder for most SE Asian passport holders.

My experience is mostly with Sri Lankan monks getting visas to Canada and the US to work temporarily. For them it is complicated, drawn out, and often unsuccessful. For foreign monks wanting to stay in Sri Lanka, it's required to have a specific monastery/organization sponsor you. The actual fee for the visa is waived, however just like everyone else it must be renewed on a yearly basis.

Actual citizenship in Asian countries for foreigners is all but unheard of.

As I recall it took about 20 years for the senior monk at Abhayagiri (who is Canadian by birth) to eventually get US citizenship. It was actually harder for him as a monk because the govt didn't like his frequent traveling in and out of the country.
| One sutta per day to your inbox | ReadingFaithfully.org Support for reading the Suttas | Citation lookup helper | Instant sutta name lookup | Instant PED lookup | Instant DPPN lookup |
2600htz
Posts: 834
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by 2600htz »

Wow thats so sad!.

So basically if someone is born in south america,africa or a country without monasteries they cant become a monk in practical terms?.

Or what they do? Get a temporary visa and constantly renew it?

Thats crazy.
BKh
Posts: 770
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 12:43 am

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by BKh »

Yep, visas are the biggest practical problem for international monastics. And indeed it is, as with most things, a bigger barrier for people from poor countries. But I don't have any experience with monastics from poor countries trying to live in SE Asia. Perhaps it is no worse for them than people from richer countries. But people from poor countries to rich countries will be difficult.

From what I know, most religious class visas require that someone already be an ordained monastic. So that makes it hard to ordain outside of your country of origin. And outside of Asia I don't think many monasteries in wealthy countries are eager to sponsor monastic candidates from abroad. They know that the visa situation is too precarious.

And yes, it does mean that repeat, temporary visas are the most common method. Although some countries like Australia put a lifetime cap on this kind of visa. I think that there you cannot stay longer than five years in your lifetime. That's the worst country I've heard of for visas. I think that Thailand may have a 10 continuous year limit, but that just means you have to leave for a year and then can start over with a new 10 years.

Also, some countries put age limits in place. Some countries will have language fluency requirements. And on and on. Basically it's only getting more difficult to live abroad as a monastic. And even countries like Canada where a path to citizenship was not onerous are closing ranks.

I don't want to discourage folks from trying. All kinds of things can happen. Just wanted to make it clear that the idea in your original post that monastics can just float around the globe at will is not reality.
| One sutta per day to your inbox | ReadingFaithfully.org Support for reading the Suttas | Citation lookup helper | Instant sutta name lookup | Instant PED lookup | Instant DPPN lookup |
Suddh
Posts: 452
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2023 8:57 am

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by Suddh »

BKh wrote: Mon Apr 15, 2024 12:02 am Visas are very problematic for monastics from and to most countries. I'm not even sure if Buddhist countries offer much of a benefit to monastics, although they will certainly be less hostile than other countries.

Some countries have special religious class visas, but they aren't always that much easier. For the most part countries want to keep out people who will not be "paying their way" in society and few will recognize the benefits of monastics living in a country. Some will require that the organization prove that they have sought to fill their gap with a local applicant. And some will require a market rate salary be paid to the visa holder.

These religious class visas almost always require that a specific official religious organization sponsor the monastic.

In the case of Canada, they have started a new policy for permanent residents that excludes religious workers from eligibility. (Well, they aren't excluded per se, but those occupations are not on the approved list, so defacto excluded.)

And even travel visas can be difficult for monastics because they, by design, have no strong ties to their home country that would ensure they leave the country when the visa is up. Really it comes down to the "quality" of the passport. Easier for EU/US/etc passport holders to get visas and harder for most SE Asian passport holders.

My experience is mostly with Sri Lankan monks getting visas to Canada and the US to work temporarily. For them it is complicated, drawn out, and often unsuccessful. For foreign monks wanting to stay in Sri Lanka, it's required to have a specific monastery/organization sponsor you. The actual fee for the visa is waived, however just like everyone else it must be renewed on a yearly basis.

Actual citizenship in Asian countries for foreigners is all but unheard of.

As I recall it took about 20 years for the senior monk at Abhayagiri (who is Canadian by birth) to eventually get US citizenship. It was actually harder for him as a monk because the govt didn't like his frequent traveling in and out of the country.
So do I understand correctly that monks currently don't have to pay for visa in SL? What about medical fees?
BKh
Posts: 770
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 12:43 am

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by BKh »

[side note: there is no need to quote whole other posts, eh?]

Yes, as of a year and a half ago, the sponsoring monastery requests a waiver from the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and then that waiver would be taken as payment to the visa office when applying for the residency visa. As I recall that same waiver was used to obtain the required medical exam. Once the exam was complete you get a health card ID to be used to obtain services at the government hospitals. I don't believe there is a co-pay.

Now, in order to get the residency visa, you have to enter Sri Lanka on an entry visa which must be obtained outside of Sri Lanka. I have never done that part, so I'm not sure about the fees. Also it involves obtaining police clearances which would involve a payment to your home government. So there would be no way for that to be waived. And to be clear, you cannot enter on a tourist visa and obtain a residence visa.

As far as I know there is no waiver for monastics entering as a tourist. I doubt they would put you on a plane back out of the country if you had no money, but I don't recommend trying. You just have someone do the payment online before you leave.

And as should be noted for all visa information you find on line, facts on the ground can change without notice. Everything should be confirmed with your sponsoring monastery.
| One sutta per day to your inbox | ReadingFaithfully.org Support for reading the Suttas | Citation lookup helper | Instant sutta name lookup | Instant PED lookup | Instant DPPN lookup |
User avatar
Bhikkhu_Jayasara
Posts: 303
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:54 am
Contact:

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara »

monasteries have to be very very careful with sponsoring foreign monastics. I've heard many times that a monastery will sponsor the monk to come into the country, and then they disappear.

when I was a new monk, on facebook all of a sudden many foreign monks started messaging me, and I was wondering what was going on until I spoke to Bhante G about it and he told me about what often happens, from that point on I don't engage online with monks I don't know personally or through a fellow monk I trust.

as a monk who has travelled abroad (going to India this November), I have not seen any special benefits for being a monk. places like Australia have a special visa if you are going to them as a religious leader and intend to teach ( i was put aside and grilled about my visa outside of customs when I visited Australia), as opposed to just visiting.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Bhikkhu Jayasāra -http://www.youtube.com/studentofthepath and https://maggasekha.org/
Suddh
Posts: 452
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2023 8:57 am

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by Suddh »

BKh wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 3:18 am ...
Info much appreciated. Do you need to have a prior arrangement with a monastery there in order to get the entry visa outside of the country?

Do I understand correctly that you only need to report once a year - i.e. upon renewal of the visa? Have you heard anything about the five year visa for monks that have already stayed in the country for five years?
BKh
Posts: 770
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 12:43 am

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by BKh »

Suddh wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 8:08 am Do you need to have a prior arrangement with a monastery there in order to get the entry visa outside of the country?
I'm not sure, as I think I mentioned I haven't gone through that part of the process. I'm guessing you do but I don't know. In any case you would need to have a prior arrangement because you will have to start the residency application soon after arrival.
Do I understand correctly that you only need to report once a year - i.e. upon renewal of the visa? Have you heard anything about the five year visa for monks that have already stayed in the country for five years?
It's not just reporting. The whole process has to be repeated. This includes a yearly medical screening for communicable diseases that are mostly eradicated in Sri Lanka. The residency visa is multiple entry, so I guess they are afraid that you will pick something up on a visit out of the country.

But yes, it's just once a year. In Colombo.

As far as I know the five year visa is no longer available. One theory I heard was that they are trying to raise money through more frequent visa fees. It's also true that they have worked hard to eliminate some diseases so they don't want to risk reintroduction. I don't know for sure. It could also just be that they want to keep closer tabs on foreigners and have an easy way to kick someone out if they need to now that Sri Lanka is becoming a more popular place to live.
| One sutta per day to your inbox | ReadingFaithfully.org Support for reading the Suttas | Citation lookup helper | Instant sutta name lookup | Instant PED lookup | Instant DPPN lookup |
Suddh
Posts: 452
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2023 8:57 am

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by Suddh »

BKh wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 9:41 am ...
Thank you.
BKh
Posts: 770
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 12:43 am

Re: Visas for monks?

Post by BKh »

You're welcome. I did check and it sounds like the sponsor is needed to even get an entry visa.
| One sutta per day to your inbox | ReadingFaithfully.org Support for reading the Suttas | Citation lookup helper | Instant sutta name lookup | Instant PED lookup | Instant DPPN lookup |
Post Reply