Tier 1 - General

Immigration tier 1 visa

This immigration route replaced the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) in 2008 for highly skilled migrants. Until 23 December 2010 it was open to people to apply for entry clearance to come to the UK as a Tier 1 (General) migrant. Thereafter it was closed to overseas applicants, and applications from those within the UK are now restricted to those seeking Tier 1 (General) extensions. No new applications have been possible since April of 2011.

To qualify for leave to remain applicants require 80 points for a combination of attributes - made up of their qualifications, age and previous earnings. Details of how these points are scored are set out in Appendix A of the Immigration Rules. A reduction to 75 points applies for people who had previously been granted leave to remain under the HSMP or under two other now deleted immigration categories.

The age criterion operates to award more points to younger applicants and less to older applicants.

Applicants also need to have 10 points for English language. These points are awarded by reference to the criteria listed in Appendix B of the Immigration Rules which are (alternatively):

  • production of an English language test certificate from a provider approved by the Secretary of State,
  • production of an academic certificate deemed by the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC) to meet or exceed the recognised standard of a UK Bachelors' or Masters' Degree or a PhD, or
  • being a national of one of a list of countries whose first language is English, or by having obtained an academic qualification to the necessary level from one of those countries.

Lastly applicants require 10 points under Appendix C which is concerned with the applicants' ability to maintain themselves.

If successful, applicants for leave to remain under the Tier 1 (General) subcategory will be granted leave to remain in the UK for two years if their previous grant of leave to remain was under Immigration Rules in place before 6 April 2010 or for three years if their previous grant of leave was after this date. They will have free access to the UK labour market, with one exception - which is that they are not allowed to take employment as a doctor in training. At the end of this period they can apply for further leave to remain in the same category or in any other Tier or subcategory of the Points-Based System. If successful they will be granted leave to remain for up to a total of five years.

Following completion of a total of five years' leave to remain applicants can apply for settlement in the UK - in the form of indefinite leave to remain as a Tier 1 (General) Migrant. They must meet the additional requirement at this stage of satisfying the Secretary of State that they have sufficient knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK. If successful they can then apply after 12 months for UK nationality.

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