UK Points Based System

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.

It originally had 5 Tiers but since its introduction only 4 of its Tiers are in use. 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. Later on 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