2008 Points Based Tier System
The United Kingdom's Tier 1 immigration scheme is part of the new points based system for employment-based immigration. Tier 1 is for highly skilled migrants ( click here for the Tier 1 (general) HSM ), entrepreneurs, investors , and foreign graduate students . It will replace the schemes that cover these immigration categories once it is implemented in early 2008. Tier 1 is designed to attract top talent from outside the European Union who can contribute the most to the UK economy.
Migrants coming to the UK under Tier 1 visas do not need a job offer or a sponsor [unlike sponsored work permits ] and are free to seek employment anywhere in the UK. A person must successfully score 75 points under a points based system to come to the UK under Tier 1. Migrants who are successfully granted leave in the UK under Tier 1 can stay for three years. After three years, a migrant can renew their Tier 1 visa.
Tier 1 has now replaced the following immigration categories:
Who Can Qualify
Tier 1 is meant for a variety of highly skilled individuals and is broken up into a number of sub-categories:
The Tier 1: General Highly Skilled Migrants sub-category is for highly educated and highly skilled migrants who can score enough points on their qualifications, previous earnings, age, and UK experience.
Individuals who plan to invest in the UK by setting up or taking over a business, and being actively involved in running the business can come to the UK under the Entrepreneur sub-category of Tier 1. At least £200,000 of disposable capital held in a regulated financial institution is required. Third country nationals who would like to start a business in the UK will find this Entrepreneur visa to meet their needs if they can meet the criteria.
Wealthy individuals who plan to make a substantial financial investment in the UK can come under the Investor sub-category of Tier 1. At least £1,000,000 of disposable funds is required. Investors are exempt from the English language requirement and the requirement to prove the ability to support themselves and any dependants. This sub-category is designed for very wealthy individuals who want to live in the UK.
The Post-Study Work sub-category is meant to retain the brightest foreign students who have studied in the UK (under current rules or the Tier 4 system, once implemented). It is part of Tier 1 because successful applicants will be able to find work after graduation without having a sponsor.
However, it is only designed to be a bridge to highly skilled or skilled work, much like the current International Graduates Scheme it will replace. Those with student visas in the UK under Post-Study Work are expected to switch into another part of the points system (whether Tier 1 or another Tier) as soon as they are able to do so.
To encourage individuals to switch over, leave will only be granted under Post-Study Work for a maximum of 2 years and is non-renewable. Time spent in the UK under Post-Study Work will not count towards permanent residence. Students must apply for the Post-Study Work sub-category within 12 months of receiving their qualification.
The Points Based System
In each category of Tier 1, points will be earned according to three sets of criteria:
- Criteria specific to each category, such as age and past experience in regards to the General Highly Skilled Migrants sub-category . Migrants will need to score at least 75 points to pass. Click GHSM Calculator to check whether you are eligible or not?
- English language ability. Migrants will be required to score 10 points in an assessment of their English language competency.
- Ability for migrants to support themselves and any dependants, otherwise called Maintenance. Migrants need to score 10 points in this area by demonstrating that they have sufficient funds for their stay in the United Kingdom until they find employment. Sufficient funds are judged against the latest standard of living figures.
Migrants will be required to reach the pass mark for each of the criteria above in order to gain entry under Tier 1 and to remain in the UK when seeking renewal of their Tier 1 visa after three years.
Documentary evidence for a migrant's ability to claim sufficient points will be required. As per the Immigration and Asylum Act of 2006, migrants applying from abroad will have no right of appeal when denied entry, so it is important to make sure this documentation is in order.
Renewal of Leave Under Tier 1
Subsequent renewals of leave under the Highly Skilled General , Investor or Entrepreneur sub-categories will be granted for two years. It is not possible to apply for an extension of stay under the Post-Study Work sub-category. Individuals in the UK under the Post-Study Work sub-category are required to switch to another sub-category or a different tier.
After five years, a person may apply for settlement. However, time spent under the Post-Study Work category does not count towards the five-year requirement.
Their are certain requirements and restrictions when renewing a Tier 1 visa. Migrants must apply for the same sub-category under which they originally applied and score enough points again, except for the English language and Maintenance requirements.
Entrepreneurs must show that an investment in business has been made and registration of the business was undertaken within three months of entry. They must be actively engaged in the business and have created 2 full time job positions for at least 12 months.
Investors must show that £750,000 was invested within three months of entry and that the investment has been maintained throughout the period of leave.
Migrants granted leave in the UK under Tier 1 will be able to bring their dependants provided they can support them during their stay. Dependants include children, spouses, civil partners, same sex partners, and unmarried partners.
Dependants of migrants in the highly skilled Tier 1 will be able to work in the UK as well. However, they will not be able to switch into any points system tier other than as a dependant of the main applicant to switch.
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