There are Five Immigration Tiers outlined below:
(See below for important new changes to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Visas)
The changes to the immigration rules follow recommendations for changes to Tier 1 and Tier 2 by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of 4 December 2009. The UK Government has decided to implement these changes and has now provided further details. The changes include the following:
New points tables for Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas.
There is a new simpler route for “Very Highly Skilled Workers” without Masters degrees under the Tier 1 visa scheme. Earlier you could not apply with just a Bachelors degree. The salary band is also higher which makes it more difficult in many cases to come under Tier 1.
There is greater flexibility for short-term transfers by multinational companies. However, it is more difficult for those on transfers to remain on a long term basis. Tier 2 Intra Company transfer visas no longer lead to permanent residence.
Previously the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP); Tier 1 also encompasses:
- Self-employed lawyers
- Business persons
- Writers, Composers and Artists
- The International Graduates Scheme
- Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
Tier 1 General Visa Changes:
Since 6 April 2010 you will have to gain 30 points for having a Bachelors degree under the new Tier 1 criteria. Prior to 6 April 2010 there were no points for having a Bachelors degree which means that until the new Tier 1 system started you needed a Masters degree or equivalent to apply under the Tier 1 visa.
The minimum previous earnings under which you can now gain points has increased to 25,000. You will also only gain 5 points for earnings of between 25,000 to 29,999. This makes it more difficult for people with lower salaries to qualify under the new Tier 1 visa criteria.
- Under the previous system for initial applications you gained between 15 and 20 points for previous earnings for a salary of 20,000 to 25,999. Under the new system you will only gain points if you earn 25,000 or more.
- Now you are initially to be granted two years instead of the three years under the Tier 1 General Visa. You will be granted an extension of three years if you have been in highly skilled employment.
You will be able to claim points under the age category as long as you are under the age of 40 years. Under the previous system you could only gain points if you were under 32 years of age.
If you have a PhD the number of points you are awarded have been reduced from 50 to 45 points.
- Under the new criteria you will gain 75 points if you earn 150,000 or more. In practice almost anyone earning this level of salary will qualify for the Tier 1 visa.
- If you are currently in the UK under Tier 1, HSMP, as a writer, composer or artist, or as a self-employed lawyer you will be able to come under the transitional arrangements.
- This will mean that in most cases you will be largely unaffected by the changes in the Tier 1 visa requirements.
Tier 1 Post Study Work
If you are a graduate of a UK medical school you will under the new rules be able to switch to Tier 1 PSW category within 12 months of completing the Foundation Program. You will not have to wait for graduation to complete specialty or GP training.
Generally: Is for people coming to the United Kingdom with a job offer to fill a gap that cannot be filled by a settled worker which may or may not be on the Shortage Occupation List. It also covers:
- Intra Company Transfers: for employees of multi-national companies who are being transferred by an overseas employer to a skilled job in a UK-based branch of the organization.
- Sports People: for elite sports persons and coaches whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level.
- Ministers of Religion: for those people coming to fill a vacancy as a Minister of Religion, missionary or Member of a Religious Order.
Tier 2 Visa or Work Permit Scheme Changes:
- If you are on a Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) visa this will no longer lead to permanent residence.
- You will find it more difficult in many cases to gain points under prospective earnings. For example the minimum salary to gain points has gone up from 17,000 to 20,000. You do however gain more points if your earnings are above 32,000.
- If you are in non-shortage occupations in the Tier 2 General category you will gain 5 more points than in Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT).
- If you are in a non-shortage occupation you will need prospective earnings of at least 20,000 to come under Tier 2.
- If you are applying for a Tier 2 extension you will automatically be granted 50 points without having to meet the previous earnings test. This is to make sure that if you are already on a Tier 2 visa or on a work permit that you come under criteria similar to the criteria in place when you made your original application.
- Some multinational companies pay allowances to workers as well. For the time being there will be no changes to the rules on allowances for migrant workers.
- If you wish to change jobs within the same SOC code whilst in employment with the same employer you will not normally be required to make a new application.
- If you apply for a change of employment this will be considered against the same criteria as your initial application. If relevant, a resident labor market test will also be required.
- The Tier 2 Intra-Company transfer (ICT) has 3 categories: Established Staff, Graduate Trainee and Skilled Transfer.
- If you come under the Tier 2 ICT category as a Graduate Trainee and Skilled Transfer this will only be for a limited period only and you will not be able to switch into a different immigration category.
Tier 3 is for a limited numbers of lower skilled workers to fill temporary shortages in the labor market. Unfortunately, it is currently suspended. There is no information on when or if it will be implemented.
Students: For Adult (General) Students and Child Students. The criteria for Tier 4 are as follows:
- General Students: those coming to the UK for post-16 education.
- Child Students: those between the ages of 4 and 17. Those between 4 and 15 must be educated at independent fee-paying schools.
All applicants under Tier 4 require a sponsor, i.e. an education provider, licensed by the UK Border Agency, offering the applicant a place on a course of study in the UK.
Prior to applying for their visa, applicants must have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from their sponsoring institute stating acceptance, issued no longer than 6 months before application.
For youth mobility and temporary workers, such as those who come under Working Holiday agreements with other countries.
3.Fianc(e) of a UK Citizen, permanent resident, or EU Citizen
EEA/EU and Swiss Nationals: Swiss nationals and EEA nationals have a right to live and work in the United Kingdom. This is called a right of residence. If you are not sure if you are an EEA national, please visit the list given in our work permit section.
Ancestry Visas: Commonwealth nationals who have a grandparent who was born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man may enter the UK for a period of five years on a UK ancestry visa.
Au Pair: Come to the UK to learn English and live with an English-speaking family to work as an Au Pair.
Domestic Workers: If you wish to accompany your employer to the UK as a domestic or household worker, you will need to apply for a Domestic Worker visa.
Entertainers: If you have a genuine invitation to perform at one or more specific events, you can come to the UK on an Entertainer visa, valid for six months.
Film Crew on Location: For actors, producers, directors or technicians essential to the production of the film.
Gap-Year Entrants: If you meet the certain conditions, you can come to the UK to work in a school as a gap-year entrant.
Japan Youth Exchange: Allows up to 400 Japanese nationals aged 18-25 to come to the UK for an extended holiday up to a total of 12 months and work.
Long Residence: Indefinite Leave to Remain after 10 years lawful stay, or 14 years lawful or unlawful stay in the UK .
Ministers of Religion: For religious workers who plan to come to the UK for full-time work as a minister of religion.
Overseas Government Employee: For those who will be employed by an overseas government, a UN organization or another international organization of which the UK is a member.
Postgraduate Doctors/Dentists: If you have qualified in the UK or abroad as a doctor or dentist you may be able to do postgraduate training in the UK.
Representatives of Overseas Newspapers: This visa category covers media correspondents employed by overseas news organizations, producers, news cameramen and front-of-camera employees.
Retirement: If you are retired and have an annual income of 25,000 “without working,” and a close connection with the UK , you may qualify for this visa category.
Science and Engineering Graduate Students: This visa category allows non-EEA nationals who have graduated from UK higher education establishments in certain science/math subjects to remain in the UK for 12 months after their studies in order to pursue a career.
Scotland’s Fresh Talent Initiative: For students from outside the European Economic Area who have graduated from a Scottish university and wish to work in Scotland for up to two years.
Sports People: If you have a genuine invitation in an organized sporting event, you may enter the UK for up to six months on this type of visa.
Students: If you have secured a place to study on a full-time basis at some form of educational institution, you may enter the UK as a student.
Voluntary Workers: If you meet certain conditions, you can come to the UK for up to 12 months as a voluntary worker.
Writers, Composers and Artists: If you are an established writer, composer or artist of original work and can directly support yourself in this capacity, you may be eligible to come to the UK and work without a permit in your chosen art.
Other changes to the Immigration Rules include:
There have been changes to marriage visa requirements for those in the armed forces, and changes in the way asylum cases are dealt with, and changes to the English language requirements for non-native English speakers who wish to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
- The English language requirements if you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain has changed. If you are applying with qualifications in English for Speakers of Other Languages you will need to have studied at accredited colleges. Immigrants will need to show progress in their English language studies before applying for permanent residence.
- There is a new category of the ‘Highly Trusted Sponsor’ under the Tier 4 student visa. This will be extended to businesses later in the year.
- Asylum applicants will find it more difficult to claim humanitarian protection if they have engaged in “undesirable behavior.”
- There are new interview procedures for unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
- The marriage visa age is reduced to 18 for serving members of the armed forces and their partners.
- Monaco has been added to the list of Countries under the Youth Mobility Scheme.
Please see details of the new fees below: