Sunday, November 22, 2009

UK Immigration Tier System

The following information is about the UK's new points based system, which has not been fully implemented yet. It's possible that information may change over the course of the following months, so please check back periodically.

UK Immigration Tier System


During 2008, the United Kingdom will be overhauling its immigration law and implementing a points based system for non-European Union migrants wishing to come to the UK to work, study, and train.

The new immigration system will be broken into a five tiers that will replace the current 80 or so routes that exist now. Each tier will have different conditions,
entitlements, and entry requirements for migrants wishing to work in the UK.

Tier 1 was implemented in early 2008. Tier 1 is meant for highly skilled migrants, post-graduates, entrepreneurs, and investors.

Below is the current outline that the government has provided about the new points based tiered immigration system. However, this information is subject to change as the system comes closer to launch, so please refer back to this page from time to time in case anything changes.

Five Tiers

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

Tier 1: For highly skilled migrants, entrepreneurs, investors, and graduate students. This is designed to replace the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), the Entrepreneur and Investor schemes, and the International Graduates Scheme.

Tier 2: This is for skilled workers who have a job offer. This tier will encompass the current UK Work Permit rules.
Tier 3: For a limited numbers of lower skilled workers to fill temporary shortages in the labour market.
Tier 4: Students.
Tier 5: For youth mobility and temporary workers, such as those who come under Working Holiday agreements with other countries.
Tiers 3 and 5 are temporary migration schemes and migrants who fall under these tiers 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.
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 can potentially lead to settlement if the permanent residence requirements are met at the time of application.

Points Structure

Each tier will require the migrant to score a sufficient number of points to gain entry clearance or extend his or her leave to remain in the United Kingdom. Points will be awarded for various criteria specific to each tier. In all tiers, points will be awarded for criteria which indicates that the individual is likely to comply with immigration requirements.

In Tiers 1 and 2, points will be awarded for criteria such as age, previous salary or prospective salary, and qualifications; a system similar to the current Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) which has proven very successful. To get an idea of how this system will work, please see our HSMP Points Calculator.

When more details are known about the points structure, will have tools in place to help people assess themselves to see how likely they are to successfully qualify for each tier


All migrants applying under Tiers 2-5 will be 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.

Highly skilled Tier 1 migrants do not require a job offer and thus do not require sponsorship.


Dependantsare allowed to come to the UK with the main applicant. However, they will not be allowed to work if they accompany a student under Tier 4 or a temporary worker under Tier 5 if -- in both cases -- the individual has been given less than 12months leave to remain in the UK.

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Immigration Information