Five Tier Points Based System


Call the London Office on +44 (0)344 991 9222 for a Tier 1 (General) consultation or an appointment.

Only Tier 1 (General) applications from within the UK are being accepted. Tier 1 (General) is set to be completely phased out by April 2011.


The United Kingdom has overhauled its immigration law and implemented a points based system for non-European Union migrants wishing to come to the UK to work, study, and train.

The points based immigration system is broken into five tiers and replaces the current 80 or so routes that existed previously. Each tier has different conditions, entitlements, and entry requirements for people wishing to live and work in the UK.

The United Kingdom recently announced new limits on the number of visas available under each Tier. Tier 1 (General), the highly skilled migrant visa, is being phased out and is only available to applicants from within the UK. In April of 2011 it will be phased out entirely. The rest of Tier 1 includes points-based schemes for entrepreneurs, investors, and foreign graduate students of UK educational institutions.

If you are a highly skilled worker with the right qualifications, an entrepreneur, a wealthy individual with money to invest, a student, or you have a job offer from an employer who is willing to sponsor your stay in Britain, a Tier 1 visa could be right for you.

Five Tiers

The five immigration tiers are outlined below. Click each Tier to get more information from

Tiers 3 and 5 are temporary migration schemes and if you apply for a visa under one of these tiers, you will not be able to switch to a different tier from within the UK. The UK has also suspended Tier 3 in favour of migrants from the EU; however, this may change depending on labor market demands.

If apply under Tiers 1, 2, or 4, you will be eligible to switch to another tier at any time after you are in the UK if you can meet the requirements of that tier. Tiers 1 and 2 can potentially lead to settlement if permanent residence requirements are met at the time of application.

Points Structure

Each tier will require you to score a sufficient number of points to gain entry clearance or leave to remain in the United Kingdom. Points are awarded for various criteria specific to each tier. The ability to fund your initial stay in the UK and your ability to speak English will play an important role in most cases. See each tier linked above for more details.

In Tiers 1 and 2, points are awarded for criteria such as age, previous salary or prospective salary, and qualifications. This system is very similar to the previous Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) which has proven very successful.


If you are applying under one of Tiers 2 through 5, you will be required to have sponsorship from a licensed sponsor (an employer, government, or educational institution). The certificate of sponsorship assures the UK that you are able to perform the particular job or course of study, or otherwise fulfills the requirements to enter the UK under the specific tier.

Under Tier 1, you would not require a job offer and thus would not require sponsorship.


Dependants are allowed to come to the UK with you in most cases. However, they will not be allowed to work if they accompany a student under Tier 4 if the individual has been given less than 12 months leave to remain in the UK.'s UK Visa Services has over 20 years of experience providing immigration services to clients around the world. If you have the skills Britain needs and you would like to live and work in the UK, take the first step and contact us by filling out a free assessment form. A professional immigration adviser will contact you shortly.