The UK is one of the World’s most popular immigration destinations for people wishing to live and work in a new country. However, the UK’s immigration system is restrictive. From 2008 to 2010 the UK’s five tier, points-based visa system was phased in, which measures applicants against various criteria designed to assess their eligibility for a UK work or study visa. Most work-related visa applications, as well as Tier 4 study visa applications, are now made through this system.
Since 2010 the UK government has made a series of changes to UK immigration law in order to restrict immigration to the UK, especially from outside of the EEA.
5 Tier UK Visa System
The UK five tier visa system consists of the following:
- Tier 1 Visa: This visa category is for ‘high-value migrants’ from outside the EEA and covers entry of entrepreneurs, investors, and those very few people who come under the ‘exceptional talent’ visa.
- Tier 2 Visa: This category is for ‘skilled workers’ from outside the EEA with a job offer in the UK. It includes skilled workers who are transferred to the UK by an international company, skilled workers where there is a proven shortage in the UK, ministers of religion and sportspeople.
- Tier 3 Visa: This category was designed for low-skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages. The Government has so far never allocated any visas under this scheme. Unfortunately, this means that you cannot apply for the Tier 3 visa scheme.
- Tier 4 Visa: This category is for students aged over 16 from outside the EEA who wish to study in the UK. Applicants must have a place at a registered UK educational establishment before they can apply.
- Tier 5 Visa: This category contains six sub-tiers of temporary worker including creative and sporting, charity, religious workers, and the youth mobility scheme which enables about 55,000 young people every year to work in the UK on working holidays. The visas are awarded to young people from countries that have reciprocal arrangements with the UK.
Other UK visas
The five-tier system covers most work, study, and investment visas. But visitor visas, family visas, and some UK business visas fall outside of the five tiers.
- UK Visitor Visas: This section has the information you need to enter the UK as a visitor, whether for business or pleasure
- UK Family Visas: Whether you want to bring your family to the UK, or join a family member already living there, this section covers the main UK visa options for families.
- UK Business Visas: This section covers a limited number of long term business visas which fall outside of the five tier system.