UK introduced a new points-based immigration system from 2008 and replaced the old Work Permit and Highly Skilled Migrant Programmes with Tier 2 and Tier 1 of the Points- Based System. The Points-Based System includes the following 5 tiers:
The following section contains immigration matters under Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5 Points-Based System, since the UK government has closed Tier 3 and Tier 1 (General) – Highly Skilled Workers for new applicants. Click the link for Tier 4 student visas.
Investors (Tier 1)
If the applicants have at least £2 million (or equivalent in foreign currency) available to you for investment in the UK into specific investments such as UK government bonds, share or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies, they are eligible to apply for Tier 1 Investor Visa to remain in the UK for a period of 3 years initially which can be extended for a further 2 year period upon successful application. The applicants can apply to settle permanently in the UK after two years if they invest £10 million, after three years if they invest £5 million, or after five years if they invest £2 million.
Entrepreneurs (Tier 1)
The applicants must have access to at least £50,000 investment funds to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa. There are different eligibility requirements depending on whether you have access to £50,000 or to £200,000. They can apply for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa for an initial 3 years stay and obtain an extension for 2 years to complete five years’ residence in the UK for eligibility of indefinite leave to remain.
You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply. A ‘Genuine entrepreneur’ test will be conducted by the UKBA caseworker for satisfaction of the genuineness of the applicant. Read details of UK Boarder Agency Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Policy Guidance, or visit UK Visas and Immigration official website for eligibility and documents required for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.
Graduate Entrepreneurs (Tier 1)
This is the route for graduates who have been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea by their UK University or the Department for International Trade (DIT), and want to stay in the UK to develop their business by setting up a business either as a sole trader, a partnership or a company registered in the UK. The successful applicants will be granted for 1 year visa which can be extended for one more year. under this category. At the end of the two years, the graduates will have to leave the UK or switch into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category if they can show £50,000 investment funds. These funds can either be already invested in business or partially invested with the balance of the £50,000.
The UK government allocates limited numbers each year for this category. Read details of UK Boarder Agency Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) Policy Guidance, or visit UK Visas and Immigration official website for eligibility and documents required for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.
Exceptional Talents (Tier 1)
The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa route is designed to encourage the exceptionally talented individuals to remain in the UK. This is a route for non-EU/Switzerland nationals who have been endorsed as a recognised leader (exceptional talent) or an emerging leader (exceptional promise) in the field in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts. Successful applicants can stay in the UK for up to 5 years and 4 months if they apply outside the UK, and can apply for settlement once they’ve been in the UK for 5 years.
The applicants under this category cannot switch into another category within the UK. Read details of UK Boarder Agency Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) policy guidance, or visit UK Visas and Immigration official website for eligibility and documents required for Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) visa.
Skilled Workers with a Job Offer (Tier 2)
This is one of the most important entry routes into the UK for skilled workers where there is a proven shortage in the UK. Applicants can apply for leave to enter or a leave to remain (if they are eligible to switch) as a Tier 2 (General) migrant if they have been offered a skilled job in the United Kingdom.
The applicants must have a job offer with salary at least £30,000 a year or the ‘appropriate rate’ for the job they’re offered, and a certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence. Successful applicants can come to the UK with a Tier 2 (General) visa for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days. But from April 2016 only those applicants who earn more than £35,000 per annum can apply for indefinite leave to remain, unless they are in certain extremely highly-skilled or shortage occupation jobs. Other Tier 2 visa holders will only be allowed to remain in the UK for 6 years.
Applicants may need to prove their knowledge of the English language when you apply. Read details of UK Boarder Agency Tier 2 Skilled Workers Policy Guidance, or visit UK Visas and Immigration official website for eligibility and documents required for Tier 2 (General) visa.
Youth Mobility Scheme and Temporary Workers (Tier 5)
Tier 5 consists of two main categories – the Youth Mobility Scheme and Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) which is sub-divided to five sub-categories including creative and sporting, charity worker, religious worker, government authorised exchange, and international agreement.
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme replaces the previous UK Working Holiday Visa programme, and is for young people who want to live, work and travel in the United Kingdom for a period of up to two years. The Youth Mobility Scheme is only open to countries which have a special reciprocal agreement with the United Kingdom. Visit UK Visas and Immigration official website for eligibility and documents required for Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa.
All other subcategory applicants under Tier 5 will be required to have a sponsor and a valid certificate of sponsorship before application. No tiers or category switching is allowed for applicants from Tier 5 (Temporary Worker), nor can this route lead to final settlement in the UK.
Although UK immigration system is very complicated with strict rules, those applicants with visas under Tiers 1, 2, and 4 can switch to different tiers once they are in the UK, provided they meet the requirements of other tiers. The following simplified flowchart provides an overview of UK immigration routes.
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