UK Points-Based Visas and Work Visas

It is important to understand how the points-based system (PBS) works and what it means for you, as United Kingdom-based employers, employing migrant workers and educational institutions teaching migrants. The points-based system only covers migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. However, there are some restrictions on nationals of countries that have recently joined the EEA.

The Points-Based System (PBS)

Under the current system, migrants will need to pass a points-based assessment before they are given permission to enter or remain in the United Kingdom. The system consists of five tiers. Each tier has different points requirements.

The number of points the migrant needs, and the way the points are awarded, will depend on the tier they are applying under. Points will be awarded to reflect the migrant's ability, experience, age, and, when appropriate, the level of need within the sector the migrant will be working in.

The Five Tier System

The points-based system consists of five tiers. In summary, these tiers are:

  • Tier 1 - Highly Skilled Workers
  • Tier 2 - Skilled Workers with a Job Offer
  • Tier 3 – Low-Skilled Workers Filling Specific, Temporary Labour Shortages
  • Tier 4 - Students
  • Tier 5 - Youth Mobility and Temporary Workers

What Is a Work Visa?

If you want to come to the UK to work, to set up a business, to pursue your career, to invest, or to live and work as an entrepreneur, then you may wish to consider a work visa. This can lead to settlement. 'Working visa' is a generic term, and the correct type of visa depends on your age, English language ability, qualifications, previous and future salary, work experience, and maintenance funds.

How Does It Work?

The main working visa categories are included under what is known as the points-based system. This will allow you and your family to live and work in the UK. We can assist you with applications while you hold status in another category, should you wish to switch into a working category, extend your current visa under the same category, or simply enter from abroad into such a category. According to these requirements, you can access different work visas depending on your personal circumstances.

Can I Settle in the UK after Working in the UK?

After working continuously in the UK under a tier 1 or tier 2 visa, or with specified
variations of working visas, you may be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK after five years.

The Benefits of Securing a Working Visa

  • You Will Enjoy the Ability to Live and Work in the UK
  • You Will Be Able to Bring Your Family with You to the UK
  • You May Be Eligible to Apply for Settlement after Five Years of Working Continuously

It is important to note that, should an individual with ILR be absent from the UK for two consecutive years, the ILR status is likely to lapse.

Tier 1: Highly Skilled Worker - Work and Live in the UK

This category is now closed for new applicants from within the UK and from overseas.

This visa category is designed to attract highly skilled workers to live and work in the UK. It is suitable for qualified individuals who wish to seek employment, attend job interviews, or establish a business in the UK.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate they have the required English language ability, maintenance (funds), and a recognised qualification to be eligible to qualify under this visa category. In addition, applicants must meet the minimum points requirements on an assessment for attributes including age, previous earnings, and any UK experience.

Successful applicants will be granted temporary residence under the tier 1 (General) visa category, which will permit them to live and work freely in the UK for an initial period of three years, after which an extension can be applied for. Settlement can be gained subject to requirement after five years leave in such a category or with a combination of accepted categories.

Tier 1: Entrepreneur - A Visa to Establish a Business in the UK

Tier 1: Graduate Entrepreneur

This is a new category comprised of those wishing to develop a business idea immediately upon graduating, and who have been identified by UK universities as having developed world-class innovative or entrepreneurial skills, but who are not, at the time of their graduation, and presumably at the time of the expiry of their leave to remain as a tier 4 (General Student), in a position to meet the full requirements of the tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route. Additionally, from 6th April, 2012, graduates from outside the European Economic Area who have studied in UK educational institutions, and who have been identified by their college as having world-class innovative ideas, are entitled to switch from tier 4 into tier 1.

Tier 1: Investor - A Visa to Make Investments in the UK

Tier 1: Post-Studies Work - A Work Permit after Completion of Studies in the UK

This category is now closed for new applicants from within the UK and from overseas.

This category is for graduates who have studied in the United Kingdom to remain here and take on highly skilled work upon completion of their studies. Upon completion of two years in this category, the applicant will need to switch into another tier 1 or tier 2 category or return to their home country.

Tier 2: General - How to Get a Work Permit as a Skilled Worker in the UK

Tier 2 (General) is broadly equivalent to the previous work permit scheme i.e. skilled workers with a job offer. Under the recently introduced five-tier managed migration plan, an applicant must achieve a certain number of points but must have a job offer from a UK employer and a certificate of sponsorship.

Sponsoring Employer

If an employer wishes to recruit a migrant under tiers 2, 4, or 5, they will have to apply for a sponsor licence online and send in payment and documents in support of their application. Employers can currently apply for licences to sponsor tier 2 workers.

Under tier 2, the sponsor will need to be a UK-based employer. The sponsor must have good human resource systems and compliance in place to allow them to monitor and keep records of the migrants they employ or teach.

As a licensed employer, you will be given an A rating or a B rating, and you will be added to a published register of sponsors. Sponsors that the Home Office thinks could be a risk to immigration control, or those who they consider do not have the correct systems in place, will be given a B rating. B-rated sponsors must follow a sponsorship action plan designed to help them become A rated or they risk losing their licence.

Sponsorship Duties

Licensed sponsors are held fully responsible for the actions of any migrant they employ and teach. They must ensure migrants comply with their immigration conditions by keeping records on each migrant. If a sponsor does not comply with their duties, they can have their licence downgraded to a B rating or withdrawn.

Certificates of Sponsorship

Licensed sponsors are responsible for issuing certificates of sponsorship to migrants. As well as having a certificate of sponsorship, migrants must also pass a points-based assessment to come to or stay in the United Kingdom. This has now been split into unrestricted and restricted certificates.


To be eligible to apply to come to the United Kingdom under tier 2, skilled workers will need to have a job offer, a certificate of sponsorship from one of the licensed sponsors, and have enough points to apply.

As well as scoring a certain number of points, an applicant will either need to be applying for a shortage occupation (defined by the new skills advisory body) or pass a resident labour test and demonstrate that resident labour is not being displaced. Migrants will need permission to come to the United Kingdom (known as entry clearance) and a biometric identity card before entering the United Kingdom.

Tier 2: Ministers of Religion - Visas for Missionaries and Pastoral Duties

The sponsored worker (Tier 2: Minister of Religion) visa is for ministers of religion coming to the UK to perform pastoral duties. This visa category also caters to those seeking to come to the UK as a missionary or member of a religious order, such as monks, nuns, or members of similar religious communities.

Applicants who are granted temporary residence under the sponsored worker (Tier 2: Minister of Religion) visa scheme are permitted to live and work in the UK for the duration of their employment for a maximum three-year period.

In the first instance, a prospective sponsor will apply to the UK Border Agency in order to be granted a licence. When successfully licensed, a sponsor can apply for a number of certificates of sponsorship, which they can then present to the people whom they intend to sponsor. Once a prospective employee has been allocated a certificate of sponsorship, he or she will be eligible to apply for UK entry clearance or leave to remain in the UK.

The sponsored worker (Tier 2: Minister or Religion) visa is issued for an initial grant of three years. The individual can then apply for a further extension. Upon successfully holding a sponsored worker (Tier 2: Minister of Religion) visa for a total of five years, individuals may be entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). ILR entitles individuals to permanent residency in the UK, as well as visa-free travel to and from the UK. It is also possible for eligible dependants to accompany the main applicant to the UK, in which case they will be allowed to work and study without limitation.

Tier 2: Sportsperson - How to Get a Visa for Coaches and Sportspersons

The sponsored worker (Tier 2: Sportsperson) visa is for internationally established, elite-level sportspersons or coaches with a job offer in the United Kingdom. Applicants would be expected to make a significant contribution to the development of their chosen sport in the UK.

Applicants who are granted temporary residence under the sponsored worker (Tier 2: Sportsperson) visa scheme are initially permitted to live and work in the UK for the duration of their employment for a maximum three-year period.

Tier 2: Intra-Company Transfer - How to Get a Visa for a Transfer in Your Company

The sponsored worker (Tier 2: Intra-Company Transfer) visa is for medium- and highly skilled workers with a job offer in the United Kingdom on the basis of a transfer or secondment with their existing employer.

In the first instance, a prospective sponsor will apply to the UK Border Agency in order to be granted a licence. When successfully licensed, a sponsor can apply for a number of certificates of sponsorship, which they can then present to the people whom they intend to sponsor. Once a prospective employee has been allocated a certificate of sponsorship, he or she will be eligible to apply for UK entry clearance or leave to remain in the UK.

Tier 5: Youth Mobility Scheme - Live and Work in the UK

This category is for young people from countries participating in the scheme to live and work in the United Kingdom temporarily.

Holidaymaker or a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Temporary Migrant

Entry clearance under this category is mandatory. If successful, the applicant will be granted entry clearance for a period of two years. This cannot be extended.

Tier 5: Temporary Workers - Live and Work in the UK

This category is for temporary workers required for cultural, charitable, religious, and international objectives.

Benefits of Choosing Visas & Immigration (UK) Consultants Ltd

  • Same-Day Visa Services Ensuring Your Passport Is Endorsed within 24 Hours
  • Fixed Fees So You Stay in Control
  • Direct Access to a Qualified Advisor with in-Depth Experience
  • Specialist Advisor Who Can Get the Application Right the First Time
  • Succeeded in Complex Cases Where Others Have Failed
  • Helped Scores of Individuals and Families Switch or Extend Their Status in Such Categories in the UK, Many of Whom Go on to Become Settled
  • Consultation with a Specialist Advisor to Assess Your Eligibility and Avoid Disappointment and Wasted Fees
  • Wealth of Experience and Knowledge as to the Best Way Forward for You and Your Family

Committed to You

Should you need an in-depth consultation, they are charged at £70 for 60 minutes. There is no VAT if you do not currently have settlement status or British citizenship. Our team is dedicated to your successful UK visa application, and we make this commitment to all of our clients:

  • Our Initial Free Visa Assessment Means We Select the Right Visa for You
  • Our Team Will Guide You through the Evidence and Paperwork Needed for Your Application
  • We Will Fully Complete Your Application Form and Collate All Necessary Documentation
  • We Will Submit Your Application, Documentation, and Evidence on Time and on Your Behalf
  • We Will Liaise with the Home Office Regularly to Check That Your Application Is Progressing
  • We Make Our Team Available to You 24 Hours a Day, Seven Days a Week

Contact our immigration advisor now, in Oldham/Manchester, Lancashire, for further information about UK work visas.

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