UK Visa Classes
In the United Kingdom the government has in place a points-based system for those wishing to immigrate to the UK from outside of the European Union (EU). The points-based system is said to have been replicated from the Australian immigration model for migrating workers and replaced the highly skilled migrant Programme in 2008.
The highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP) catered for the same group of skilled workers as tier 1 and 2 of the points-based system now in place. However, applicants through the HSMP route had to go through a two-stage application process that involved firstly being approved for entry, then a subsequent UK visa application after a 6-month period.
Tier 1 and 2
The points-based system is primarily focused on these two-tiers of UK visas.
The tier 1 visa is for those that are deemed as highly desirable workers. In order to qualify for the tier 1 UK visa the applicant must reach a threshold of 75-points. Points are awarded for varying facets of a candidate’s profile, such as level of education reached, age, work experience and previous salary.
Recently the rules governing the awarding of points for education were tweaked slightly meaning that Bachelors degrees were now recognised and awarded points, previously candidates had to have achieved a Masters degree in order to qualify for this section of the programme. This relaxing of the rules was brought about at the cost of other sections, meaning that the structure for other areas such as age and previous salary were adjusted up.
Migrants qualifying for the Tier 1 visa do not require a job offer before they enter the UK, and once there are free to be employed in whatever capacity they choose – not confined by their qualifications or background.
The Tier 2 UK visa, although still making use of the points-based system, is dependent on the worker having sponsorship – or in other words a job offer. The tier 2 UK visa is awarded when the applicant reaches a 70-point threshold, however, the body of that is made up of 50-points being awarded for a job offer (sponsorship), the rest of the points can be achieved through an English test and age. This is very good route of immigration to the UK if the applicant does not possess enough qualifications for the tier-1 visa.
The tier 2 visa is reliant on the job not being withdrawn, in this circumstance the UK visa is also withdrawn.
Tier 4 UK visas (student visa)
Tier 4 UK visas use the sponsorship route of tier 2; however, instead of an employer as the sponsor this falls upon the relevant educational institution.
This type of UK visa is wholly dependent on the course of study lasting more than 6-months. Although this is not a route to permanent citizenship or indefinite leave to remain, those studying on the UK tier 4 visa have the option of transferring to another type of visa after their course of study finishes.