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The Tier immigration system

The Tier immigration system

In February 2008, the UK Border Agency launched a new immigration system to ensure that only those with the right skills or the right contribution will be able to come to the United Kingdom to work and study. The Tier-system is subdivided into five levels and based on the awarding of points.

These points are awarded on the workers' skills to reflect aptitude, experience, age and also the demand for those skills in any given sector, to allow the United Kingdom to respond flexibly to changes in the labour market.

There are currently five tiers in the system:
  • Tier 1: Highly skilled individuals to contribute to growth and productivity
  • Tier 2: Skilled workers with a job offer to fill gaps in United Kingdom labour force
  • Tier 3: Limited numbers of low skilled workers needed to fill temporary labour shortages (currently suspended)
  • Tier 4: Students
  • Tier 5: Youth mobility and temporary workers: people allowed to work in the United Kingdom for a limited period of time to satisfy primarily non-economic objectives.
These tiers then again have different conditions, entitlements and entry-clearance checks, alongside with different categories.

Tier 1

  • General: if you are looking for highly skilled employment in the United Kingdom, or are self-employed or setting up a business
  • Investor: if you are making a large investment in the United Kingdom
  • Entrepreneur: if you are investing in the United Kingdom by setting up or taking over the running of a business
  • Post-study: if you are studying now or have studied in the past in the United Kingdom
  • ...please find the application forms for Tier 1 by clicking here.

Tier 2

  • General: if you are a skilled worker with a job offer from a licensed sponsor coming to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker
  • Intra-company transfer: for employees of multi-national companies who are being transferred by an overseas employer to a skilled job in a United Kingdom based branch of the organisation
  • Minister of religion: for people coming to the United Kingdom as a religious worker within a religious organisation for more than two years
  • Sportsperson: for elite sports people and coaches who are internationally established at the highest level, and will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport
  • ...please find the application forms for Tier 2 by clicking here.

Tier 4

  • Adult student: if you are a student coming to the United Kingdom for your post-16 education, OR a student visitor (age 18 or over) coming to the United Kingdom to do a course for up to six months and you do not want to work while you are here, OR a prospective student coming to the United Kingdom to help you decide which course to study or planning to start a course of study within six months
  • Child student: if you are a child student between 4 and 17 years old (note: if you are between 4 and 15 years old, you must be coming to the United Kingdom to be educated at an independent fee-paying school), OR a child visitor (age 17 or under) coming to the United Kingdom to do a course of study for up to six months
  • ...please find the application forms for Tier 4 by clicking here.

Tier 5

  • Temporary worker - creative and sporting: or people coming to the United Kingdom to work or perform as sports people, entertainers or creative artists for up to 12 months
  • Temporary worker - charity: or people coming to the United Kingdom to do voluntary work for charity, which is not paid work
  • Temporary worker - religious: for people coming to the United Kingdom to work temporarily as a religious worker
  • Temporary worker - government authorised exchange: for people coming to the United Kingdom through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice and experience the social and cultural life of the United Kingdom
  • Temporary worker - international agreement: for people coming to the United Kingdom under contract to do work that is covered under international law, including the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), similar agreements between the United Kingdom and another country, employees of overseas governments and international organisations, and private servants in diplomatic households
  • Youth mobility scheme: for young people from participating countries who would like to experience life in the United Kingdom
  • ...please find the application forms for Tier 5 by clicking here.
All applicants in Tier 2 to 5 also have to submit a certificate of sponsorship from a sponsor which is licensed by the UK Border Agency. In this case, sponsor means an employer or institution which supports the migrant and gives proof of the applicant's abilities.

Please note that until now it is only possible to make applications in person/as representative at the Public Enquiry Offices in the following categories:
  • Tier 1 (General)
  • Tier 1 (Post-Study Work)
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Ministers of Religion)
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company transfers)
  • Tier 5 (Creative and sporting)
  • Tier 5 (Charity workers)
  • Tier 5 (Religious workers)
  • Tier 5 (Government authorised exchange)
  • Tier 5 (International agreement)