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If you want to study or work in the UK, but you are dependent on immigration rules, you must apply for a UK visa.

The Foreign Office uses a point-based system classified into different categories for different work or study-related visa applications. The points-based system was first introduced by the Labour government back in February 2008.

A five-tier point-based system only applies to individuals who are entering the UK from outside the EU. However, after Brexit, experts believe that this system will include all other EU states too. However, we haven’t noticed any formal decision in this regard as yet.

Point-Based System Explained

The point-based system (PBS), simply put, is the main UK immigration route particularly designed for people applying from outside the European Union (EU).

Foreign nationals who want to work or study in the UK can benefit from this system to enter the country. As its name implies, the point-based system comprises of five different categories that allow people to work, study, invest, or train.

You have to qualify for the point-based system to be eligible for any visa category. Each category has distinctive requirements, and each segment will require you to earn a sufficient number of points to gain entry or leave to remain in the country.

The capacity to finance your initial stay and your English language proficiency will play a crucial role in getting a visa.

The point-based system is designed to ensure that no one who might harm the wellbeing and lifestyle of other residents in the UK is given access.

Also, people who’re not able to support themselves or their dependents will not be given access to visas under the point-based system.

How to Calculate Your Points?

As mentioned above, the applicant will have to allocate the necessary points based on the tier type they choose for their stay. In this section, we will be looking at the minimum points requirement for each tier separately.

Age

The candidate can allot 5 to 20 points based on the age factor. The point-based system gives an advantage to young applicants by assigning more points than the elderly.

AgePoints Allocated
Under 2820
28-2910
30-315
31 above0

 

English Language

Each candidate must score 10 points for language proficiency. Native English speakers such as Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders automatically get 10 points in this category. However, countries, where English isn’t an official language, may need to qualify for the language test to prove their ability.

For English language proficiency10 points

 

Education

The points assessment in this category varies. Some tiers monitor academic level from 30 to 50 points while others consider the 5-15 points range.

Qualifications                     Allocated Points
PhD50
Master’s35
Graduate30

 

CoS

CoS, also known as, Certificate of Sponsorship, is determined with 30-50 points range.

Earnings/Maintenance

Depending on the tier type, the applicant’s earnings/maintenance/financial independence is assessed with 15-45 points to 5-20 points.

EarningsAllocated Points
<£20,0000
£20,000-£22,99915
£23,000-£25,99920
£26,000-£28,99925
£29,000-£31,99930
£32,000-£34,99935
£35,000-£39,99940
Above £40,00045

 

Previous UK Experience

Some tier types also allocate 5 points for applicants with prior work experience in the UK.

Keep reading to know the main categories of the five-tier visa system.

Tier 1 Visa Category

Tier 1 targets highly skilled individuals, including entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors willing to come to the UK to start and run their business. Also, this category covers graduate students who belong to the EU or EEA area and would add value to the UK business system.

The applicants do not need a formal job offer to apply, but they must fulfill the point-based criteria. There are 3 main routes for this particular category.

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur: This type enables fresh graduates to start their own business in the UK.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent: This category is for individuals having exceptional talent in their relevant field of specialisation.

Tier 1 Investor: Tier 1 Investor Visa is for the individuals who want to invest at least £2,000,000 in the country.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur: This category is for migrants who are looking to establish their business in the UK.

The visa holder can also bring their dependents in certain cases, but they must be able to prove that they can support them in the country. After that, they would be able to apply for the Family Visa UK.

Tier 2 Visa Category

The Tier 2 visa category is for clergy members and skilled workers who hold expertise in sports space. People looking to move to the UK from outside the EEA can benefit from this visa type. This category includes workers who are transferred by their company to the UK.

The Tier 2 visa category is further divided into 4 sub-categories, including:

  • Tier 2 General Visa: Migrants having a job offer within the UK can apply on the basis of Tier 2 general visa category
  • Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer Visa: This option allows international companies to transfer their medium-highly skilled staff to their branch in the UK
  • Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa: This route is for migrants who are looking to fill the religious position in the community of their religion
  • Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa: This option is for sportspersons who want to work in the UK

Tier 3 Visa Category

The Tier 3 visa category was introduced to accommodate low-skilled workers who are able to fill particular shortages within the country.

Just after this category started to work out, the UK Government realised that the country does not require more unskilled workers from outside the European Union. Therefore, this has been removed under a coalition.

Tier 4 Visa Category

The Tier 4 visa category is particularly for students from outside the EEA who wish to take up a study course in the UK. The applicants must be over 16 to apply through this route. Also, they should have a place at an acknowledged school, college, or university before they can apply.

Under this category, students have to score a minimum of 40 points, out of which the 30 points is for a place on a study course with a reputable institute (which is at level 3 or above NVQ). The other 10 points are for maintenance.

This category is further divided into two types:

Tier 4 General Student Visa: This category enables students (over 16) to study in the UK.

Tier 4 Child Student Visa: This route is most suitable for children between 4 and 16 who wish to move to the UK to study.

Tier 5

The Tier 5 visa category includes 6 subcategories for temporary workers. This route enables more than 55,000 young individuals every year to move temporarily in the UK and benefit from working holidays.

Youth Mobility Scheme: Countries that have young migrants who wish to temporarily work in the UK to get familiar with the customs and traditions.

Tier 5 Temporary Workers Visa: This route enables applicants to temporarily work in the UK under many categories – sports, religious workers, and NGOs all work under this particular visa type.

Tier 1, 2, and 4 allows applicants to switch between different tiers if they satisfy the requirements of that particular tier type.

Tier 3 and 5, however, are temporary types and do not allow candidates to switch their options.

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