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What used to be 80 different ways for economic migrants to enter the UK have been consolidated into different tiers, all of which are points-based. The tiers are as follows:
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) is for people who are internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts, and who wish to work in the UK.
Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) is part of our points-based system, which is for migrants from outside Europe. You do not need to apply under the points-based system if:
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrants.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) is for non-European migrants who want to invest in the UK by setting up or taking over, and being actively involved in the running of, a business or businesses here.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) is part of our points-based system, which is for migrants from outside Europe. You do not need to apply under the points-based system if:
Tier 1 (Investor) Migrants
The Tier 1 (Investor) category is for high-net-worth individuals who want to make a substantial financial investment in the UK. You do not need a job offer to apply in this category. We will assess your application based on your ability to invest £1,000,000 in the UK.
Tier 1 (Investor) is part of our points-based system, which is for migrants from outside Europe. You do not need to apply under the points-based system if:
Tier 2 (General) Migrants
The Tier 2 (General) category is for foreign nationals who have been offered a skilled job to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.
Before you apply, you must read the Tier 2 policy guidance, which you can download from the right side of this page.
Tier 2 (General) is part of our points-based system, which is for migrants from outside Europe. You do not need to apply under the points-based system if:
Limit on Tier 2 (General) workers applying from abroad
For the year from 6 April 2012 to 5 April 2013, a maximum of 20,700 skilled workers can come to the UK under Tier 2 (General) to do jobs with an annual salary below £150,000.
There is no limit on the number of workers coming to the UK to do jobs with an annual salary of £150,000 or above.
Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) Migrant
The Tier 2 (Minister of religion) category is for people who have been offered employment or posts or roles within their faith communities in the UK as:
Tier 2 (Sportsperson) category.
The Tier 2 (Sportsperson) category is for elite sportspeople and coaches who are internationally established at the highest level, and will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport. Your application will need to be endorsed by your sport's governing body.
If you want to come to the UK as a sportsperson for a short time, you should apply under Tier 5 (Temporary worker - creative and sporting)
Tier 2 (Sportsperson) is part of our points-based system, which is for migrants from outside Europe. You do not need to apply under the points-based system if:
Tier 4 (Student) Migrant.
The Tier 4 (General) category is for adult students who want to come to or remain in the UK for their post-16 education.
If you are 16 or 17 years old and you want to study a course at or above National Qualfication Framework level 3, you can apply under this category or under Tier 4 (Child) - you should discuss and agree this with your approved education provider (known as a 'Tier 4 sponsor'). But if you want to study English as a foreign language, you must apply as a Tier 4 (General) student.
Tier 4 (Child) Student.
The Tier 4 (Child) category is for children coming to the UK to be educated between the ages of four and 17 years old. Children between four and 15 years old must be educated at independent fee-paying schools.
Tier 4 (Child) students cannot study at publicly funded schools. The only publicly funded education providers that can teach Tier 4 (Child) students are publicly funded further education college which are able to charge for i international students.
If you are 16 or 17 years old and you want to study a course at or above National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 3, you and your Tier 4 sponsor can agree whether you should apply to us under Tier 4 (Child) or Tier 4 (General). If you want to study at NQF level 2 or below, you must apply as a Tier 4 (Child) student.
You cannot be a Tier 4 (Child) student if you have any children who are living with you or
for whom you are financially responsible.
Tier 5(Youth Mobility Scheme)
The youth mobility scheme is for young people from participating countries and territories who want to come and experience life in the UK. Every year, the UK government allocates a number of places on the scheme for each country and territory.
The countries and territories participating in the scheme, and the number of places allocated to them for 2012, are:
If you are a citizen or passport-holder of a country or territory listed above, and that country or territory has not used all its places for this year, you might be able to come to the UK under the youth mobility scheme. Your national government will be your 'sponsor' during your stay.
You can also apply under the scheme if you are a British overseas citizen, a British overseas territories citizen or a British national (overseas). You will not need a sponsor, and there is no limit on the number of places on the scheme.
Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Migrant
This category has a lot of sub-categories to it. To be able to apply for a visa under most Tier 5 categories, you must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor, and you must pass a points-based assessment. There are different requirements under the Youth mobility scheme.
For further details please visit the following link: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/working/tier5/
Updated courtesy of Hassan Butt, Solicitor, Chatham Chambers Solicitors.
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