So what is the Points Based System and why was it introduced? The UK Border Agency (UKBA) introduced the Points based System between 2008 and 2010 in an effort to simplify the UK’s immigration system. Over the years the UK government gradually introduced more and more differing types of visas to enable people from around the world to move to and live in the UK. As you can imagine, the UK’s immigration system became extremely complicated and difficult to manage with so many different types of visas and immigration rules.

So to simplify everything for everyone concerned, the UKBA removed some visa categories and combined others into a 5 Tier, Points Based System. Each of the five tiers covers the many different types of visa options available to clients with two notable exceptions. Both UK Spouse (Marriage) and Indefinite Leave to Remain (aka ILR or Permanent Residency) visas have never been included within the Points Based System. On the left hand toolbar you will find each of the Tier’s and the visas they include explained in great detail but as an overview, the five tiers are as follows:

Tier 1 visas

The Tier 1 visa category contains all the highly skilled visas and was introduced in an effort to bring highly skilled clients to the UK. There was a time before the current difficult economic times that the UK government wanted the best and brightest migrants to come to the UK and help build the UK economy. As you can appreciate, with unemployment in the UK so high at the moment, it is a bit of a tough sell to tell the British public that more people should move to the UK. It is therefore understandable (if only until the economy improves) that the Tier 1 General and Tier 1 Post Study Work (PSW) have been closed to new applicants. The Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur visa categories are still open and you can apply for them by showing you have access to at least £1,000,000+ (Investor) or £200,000+ (Entrepreneur) in your bank account for the last 28 days.

Tier 2 visas

The Tier 2 category used to be known as Work Permit visas and are visas that are sponsored by a UKBA licensed UK employer. There are two main types of Tier 2 visa – Tier 2 (General) for new employees being employed that are not EU citizens and Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer for those overseas employees of a UK registered company that have been working for the company for at least 12 months overseas. You should note that this category of visa has tight restrictions associated which tie you to the employer unless you can find another UKBA licensed company to sponsor your transfer to them.

Tier 3

Tier 3 was initially planned for the low skilled visas for workers that were needed to fulfil low skilled work. As you can appreciate, when the 2008 world recession began and up to 2 million UK workers found themselves out of work, this visa category was never opened. We will update this section should the UK Border Agency ever open this category.

Tier 4 visas

The Tier 4 category contains all the Student visas. Should you wish to come and study in the UK then this is the visa category for you. To qualify for this type of visa you will need to find a UKBA licensed educational institution in the UK and they will need to offer you a place on one of their courses. The length of visa that you will be initially granted depends on the duration of the course. You should note that there are numerous restrictions on this type of visa now which affects how long you can study in the UK for (up to 8 years now) and the number of hours you can work in the UK per week.

Tier 5 visas

This category contains all the old Temporary worker visas and the Youth Mobility Scheme (formerly known as the Working Holiday Maker scheme). There are numerous sub categories of temporary workers but the most common are Charity and religious workers and these types of visas now restrict the applicants from working for more than 12 months maximum in the UK. The Youth Mobility Scheme is slightly different and enables applicants under 30 years of age that are not married from certain Commonwealth countries to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months. At the end of your visa, you will need to return to your home country but can apply for one of the other visa types stated above and return to the UK.

Tier 1 visas

The Tier 1 visa category contains all the highly skilled visas and was introduced in an effort to bring highly skilled clients to the UK. There was a time before the current difficult economic times that the UK government wanted the best and brightest migrants to come to the UK and help build the UK economy. As you can appreciate, with unemployment in the UK so high at the moment, it is a bit of a tough sell to tell the British public that more people should move to the UK. It is therefore understandable (if only until the economy improves) that the Tier 1 General and Tier 1 Post Study Work (PSW) have been closed to new applicants. The Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur visa categories are still open and you can apply for them by showing you have access to at least £1,000,000+ (Investor) or £200,000+ (Entrepreneur) in your bank account for the last 28 days.

Tier 2 visas

The Tier 2 category used to be known as Work Permit visas and are visas that are sponsored by a UKBA licensed UK employer. There are two main types of Tier 2 visa – Tier 2 (General) for new employees being employed that are not EU citizens and Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer for those overseas employees of a UK registered company that have been working for the company for at least 12 months overseas. You should note that this category of visa has tight restrictions associated which tie you to the employer unless you can find another UKBA licensed company to sponsor your transfer to them.

Tier 3

Tier 3 was initially planned for the low skilled visas for workers that were needed to fulfil low skilled work. As you can appreciate, when the 2008 world recession began and up to 2 million UK workers found themselves out of work, this visa category was never opened. We will update this section should the UK Border Agency ever open this category.

Tier 4 visas

The Tier 4 category contains all the Student visas. Should you wish to come and study in the UK then this is the visa category for you. To qualify for this type of visa you will need to find a UKBA licensed educational institution in the UK and they will need to offer you a place on one of their courses. The length of visa that you will be initially granted depends on the duration of the course. You should note that there are numerous restrictions on this type of visa now which affects how long you can study in the UK for (up to 8 years now) and the number of hours you can work in the UK per week.

Tier 5 visas

This category contains all the old Temporary worker visas and the Youth Mobility Scheme (formerly known as the Working Holiday Maker scheme). There are numerous sub categories of temporary workers but the most common are Charity and religious workers and these types of visas now restrict the applicants from working for more than 12 months maximum in the UK. The Youth Mobility Scheme is slightly different and enables applicants under 30 years of age that are not married from certain Commonwealth countries to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months. At the end of your visa, you will need to return to your home country but can apply for one of the other visa types stated above and return to the UK.

You should note that while most visas were brought into the Points Based System there are two notable exceptions. UK Spouse/Unmarried/Civil Partner and Same-Sex visas and Indefinite Leave to Remain were never included into the new system. You can find out more about these visas by clicking on the tabs on the left hand side of the screen.

Some people love to read and learn but others find too much information overwhelming. So if you find yourself in the latter category, why not call one of our visa experts that can explain everything to you over the phone? This would also enable us to assess your current situation and recommend the most suitable visas for you. So why not pick up the phone and call us on 0203 178 2048?