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Point Based System Applications

In February 2008, the Labour government introduced the UK’s first points-based immigration system heralded by ministers as being based on the Australian system. It replaced a labyrinthine scheme which saw 80 different types of visa granted.

The United Kingdom’s points-based 5 tier visa system is the main immigration route for migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to come to the UK to work, study, invest or train. The system separates applicants into five ‘tiers’.

The system contains a lengthy list of sub-tiers of migrant, but broadly speaking they are classed as one of four ‘tiers’. Tier 3 was intended to be a pathway for unskilled immigrants, but after the system began operating the British government decided there was no need for further unskilled immigration from outside the EU. Under the coalition, it has been removed and others tweaked so now the tiers are:

  • Tier 1: high-value (possessed of exceptional talent, highly skilled, high-net-worth investor, graduate entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2: skilled workers (jobs that cannot be fulfilled by a UK or EEA worker, intra-company transfers, ministers of religion or sportspersons) – capped at 20,700 a year unless the immigrant earns more than £150,000
  • Tier 4: student (in primary, secondary, or tertiary education)
  • Tier 5: temporary migrants

Each tier offers its own allocation of points for specific ‘attributes’. For each of the groups in tier 1, a person earns points according to different criteria:

  • English language ability
  • Capacity to support oneself financially
  • Age and previous experience

The admission of migrants who possess “exceptional talent”- that is, who are acknowledged to be world leaders in their fields – is capped at 1,000 per year, although few have taken advantage of this route so far.
You must have a specific job offer in order to apply for entry under tier 2, and reach a total of 70 points.
You must score a minimum of: – 50 points for Attributes, which includes having a sponsor and a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (Appendix A of the Immigration Rules); and 10 points for English language skills (except for Intra-Company Transfers) (Appendix B of the Immigration Rules); and • 10 points for Maintenance (funds) (Appendix C of the Immigration Rules).
By far the easiest means of meeting that target is by having a job on the ‘Shortage Occupation List’, such as chief executive officer of a major company, biochemist, engineer or medical practitioner. Such an occupation earns a person 50 points, to be topped up by other factors including age and experience

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