Points Based System Tier 1, Tier 2 worker, Tier 4 student
The United Kingdom's points based tier system is in most cases the only immigration route for non-European Union migrants wishing to come to the UK to work, study, invest or train. The system is composed of five tiers with each tier having different conditions, entitlements, and entry requirements for migrants wishing to work in the UK.
Below is an overview of the points based tiered immigration system.
The five tiers are outlined below. Click each Tier to get more information:
This category is for entrepreneurs, investors, and graduate students, and those very few top people who meet the requirements of the exceptional talent visa category. The UK also recently introduced a Post Study Entrepreneur Visa for foreign graduates. The Tier 1 General high skilled migrant visa closed in April 2011. It was replaced with the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, although only a very small number of migrants qualify for this visa.
This category is for skilled workers who have a job offer. This includes general workers, ministers of religion, sports players, and intra-company transfers.
This category was originally designed for low-skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages, however it is currently closed.
This category is for foreign students wishing to study in the UK.
This category is for youth mobility and temporary workers, such as those who come under Working Holiday agreements with other countries.
Visa holders from Tiers 1, 2, and 4 will be eligible to switch to another tier once they are in the UK if they can meet the requirements of that tier. Tiers 1 and 2 (excluding Intra-Company transfers under Tier 2) can potentially lead to settlement if the permanent residence requirements are met at the time of application.
Each tier requires an applicant to score a sufficient number of points to gain entry clearance or to extend his or her leave to remain in the United Kingdom. Points are awarded for various criteria specific to each tier. In all tiers, you need to gain a certain number of points to meet the immigration requirements.
For instance, in Tiers 1 and 2, points are awarded for criteria such as age, previous job experience, and educational qualifications.
Students coming under Tier 4 are awarded points for criteria such as previous educational qualifications, sponsorship from a University, level of English language skills, and available maintenance funds. To see if you qualify for a Tier 4 Student visa, please fill out our Student Immigration Enquiry form.
All migrants applying under Tiers 2, 4, and 5 are required to have sponsorship from a licensed sponsor (an employer or educational institution). The certificate of sponsorship assures that the migrant is able to perform the particular job or course of study. Under Tier 2 and Tier 5, the sponsor must be an employer based in the UK. Under Tier 4, the sponsor must be an education provider.
However, migrants who want to come to the UK under Tier 5 Youth mobility scheme do not need to be sponsored by a UK employer and highly skilled Tier 1 migrants do not require a job offer and thus do not require sponsorship.
In most cases, spouse and dependents are allowed to come to the UK with the main applicant. However, depending on the visa, they will not be allowed to work if they accompany a student under Tier 4 or a temporary worker under Tier 5 if the individual has been given less than 12 months leave to remain in the UK.