Five Tier System

During the past few years, the United Kingdom has been overhauling its immigration laws and implementing a points based system for non-European Union nationals wishing to come to the UK to live.

The new immigration system has been divided into five tiers that will replace the current 80 or so routes that exist now. Each tier has different conditions, entitlements, and entry requirements for migrants wishing to work in the UK.

Below is the current outline of the points-based tiered immigration system. However, this system is constantly evolving and ongoing changes include the elimination of the popular Tier 1 General skilled visa category.  As such, we advise you to refer back to this page from time to time in case of further changes.

Underpinning this system is a five tier framework, based upon the following categories:

  • Tier 1 – Entrpreneurs and Investors who will contribute to economic growth in the UK.
  • Tier 2 – Skilled workers with a job offer to fill gaps in the UK labour force.
  • Tier 3 – Limited number of low skilled workers needed to fill specific temporary labour shortages.  Tier 3 was designed to replace schemes such as the current Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) and the Sectors Based Scheme (SBS). However, the UK government has stated that Tier 3 would be suspended from implementation for an indefinite period of time.
  • Tier 4 – Students are divided into two categories:  adult and child students
  • Tier 5 – Mobility and temporary workers, which covers those permitted to work in the UK for a limited period to satisfy, primarily non-economic objectives.

Tiers 3 and 5 are temporary migration schemes and migrants who fall under these tiers will not be able to switch to a different tier from within the UK. Tiers 1, 2, and 4 will be eligible to switch to another tier once they are in the UK if they can meet the requirements of that Tier. Tiers 1 and 2 can potentially lead to settlement if the permanent residence requirements are met at the time of application.