Work Visas | UK Visa Blog

Information, Updates and Comprehensive Guidance

Every year more than 200K non-EEA nationals apply for work visa from outside the UK. However, due to lack of proper information and understanding, 3-5% of the applicants are unable to make a successful application. Therefore, the focus of the posts in this category is to provide detailed guidance and insight for making a successful UK work visa entry clearance and leave to remain applications.

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Types | UK Work Visa

Since the introduction of the points-based system (PBS) in 2008, the UK work visa applications mostly relates to Tier 1, 2 and 5. However, concurrently, non-PBS work visa applications, such as UK ancestry visa, work permit etc. are also made. Perhaps, after the introduction of Innovator and Start-up visa in March 2019 under Appendix W of the Immigration Rules, there has been a change away from PBS. Accordingly, this category highlights the details of PBS and non-PBS UK work visa applications from inside and outside the UK.

Points Based System – PBS | UK Work Visa

The HM’s government launched the PBS applications for non-EEA national work and study visas in 2008. Apparently, the UK points-based immigration system is for selecting migrants on certain valued attributes. However, by the passage of time, the Home Office has incorporated subjective criteria such as a paper or interview based genuineness test. Therefore, overtime in most of the cases, the PBS applications have ceased to remain point-based.

The PBS attributes usually include educational qualifications, professional and language skills, maintenance and investment funds etc. Since PBS migrants don’t have recourse to public funds in the UK. Therefore, in most of the instances, PBS migrants also needs to have maintenance funds to cover the cost of living in the UK. However, only in certain instances, applicants need to have a Criminal Record Certificate. Accordingly, each PBS Tier has sub-categories with varying associated conditions and mandatory eligibility requirements.

Furthermore, the five ‘tiers’ of the points-based system (PBS) are:

  1. Tier 1 for High-Value Migrants
  2. Tier-2 for Skilled Workers
  3. Tier-3 for Low-Skilled Workers
  4. Tier-4 for Students
  5. Tier-5 for Temporary Workers

Please note, in most of the instances, the dependant family members of PBS migrants can apply for entry clearance and leave to remain application. Tier-4 for Students is not a work visa, but Tier 4 students and their dependants can work in the UK. Moreover, a Tier 4 student can switch to a work visa from inside the UK. And can also get a 2-year post-study visa (PSW) after completing studies.

Tier 1 for High Value Migrants | UK Work Visa

Apparently, PBS Tier 1 is for high-value and high-skilled migrants. Accordingly, it is for entrepreneurs, investors, graduate entrepreneurs. And for migrants with exceptional talents in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology, TV and film, fashion, or the arts. However, the Home Office has closed the Tier 1 General and Post-study work (PSW) a few years ago.

The Home Office launched the UK PBS Tier 1 route for highly skilled migrants in March 2008. And since then, the route has undergone several changes. The most significant is the closure of Tier 1 General and Post Study Work (PSW) sub-categories- a few years ago. And the recent closure of Tier 1 entrepreneur and graduate entrepreneur for any fresh (new) application. Therefore, at present only the Tier 1 investor and exceptional talent visa routes are open for fresh applications.

Moreover, in March 2019, the Innovator visa has replaced the Tier 1 entrepreneur for entry clearance applications. And startup visa has replaced the graduate entrepreneur route!

Tier 1 General (closed in Dec 2010)

Empirically, the Tier 1 general was the first PBS route, which the Home Office launched in March 2008 for highly skilled workers (HSW). The Tier 1 general was the closest example of a ‘pure’ points-based system. The Tier 1 general enabled HSW to come to the UK without a job offer. However, according to Home Office findings, a sizeable proportion of 29% of Tier 1 general migrants worked in unskilled employment. Therefore, the government deemed that the route is not remarkably effective for attracting HSW. And accordingly closed the route for fresh Tier 1 visa applications in Dec 2010.

Tier 1 Post-Study Work (closed in April 2012)

For similar reasons, the Home Office closed the Tier 1 post-study work (PSW) in April 2012. However, Home Office replaced the route by some new options for international graduates such as Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, Tier 1 Exceptional Talent and Tier 4 General – Doctorate extension scheme.

Tier 1 Investor visa for high net worth individuals

The PBS Tier 1 Investor is also commonly known as the UK Golden Visa. The investor route is for high net worth individuals who wish to make a substantial financial investment in the UK. Accordingly, an applicant needs to have at least £2 millions of own funds for investment in the UK.

PBS Tier 1 Exceptional Talent (closed)

The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route is for highly skilled individuals in the fields of humanities, science, arts, engineering, and digital technology. With the potential to enrich the UK’s knowledge, economy, and cultural life. However, in 2020 the PBS Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa has been replaced by Global Talent visa under Appendix W.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (closed for entry clearance)

The PBS Tier 1 Entrepreneur route is for migrants who wish to establish, join or take over one or more businesses in the UK. However, from March 29, 2019, the innovator visa under Appendix W has replaced the route.

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa (closed for entry clearance)

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) is a route for UK graduates with a genuine and credible business idea. And have the entrepreneurial skills to establish one or more businesses in the UK. However, in 2019, the startup visa under Appendix W has replaced the route.

Tier 2 Skilled Workers | UK Work Visa

This UK work visa route is for sponsored skilled workers with a long-term job offer. Accordingly, this route is for filling the labour-supply gap for general and shortage occupation skilled workers, ministers of religion, sportsperson, and intra-company transfers.

The UK Government launched the PBS Tier 2 visa for sponsored skilled workers in November 2008. And since then, Tier 2 General is the main visa category for bringing skilled non-EU/EEA workers to the UK. However, the Tier 2 policy guidelines and Immigration Rules incorporate various protections for resident workers. For instance, the requirement of conducting a resident labour market test (RLMT) before hiring a foreign worker.

At present, the Tier 2 has four categories:

  1. Tier 2 General for skilled workers and short occupations
  2. Tier 2 Intra-company transfer (ICT) for long term staff and graduate trainees
  3. PBS Tier 2 Sportsperson
  4. Tier 2 Minister of Religion

Tier 2 General for skilled workers and shortage occupations

One can apply for a Tier 2 General visa if they have an offer of a skilled job that a resident settled worker cannot fill. And this category includes applicants coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations. In fact, this is the most active and popular category of PB Tier 2 visa. And when we commonly talk about the UK work visa or work permit, we are referring to Tier 2 General visa. One can apply for a General Worker visa if they have a job offer i.e. Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). However, for successfully applying for the UK Tier 2 general visa, an applicant needs to score 70 points:

  1. 30 points for an assigned CoS as per Appendix A of the Immigration Rules, which meets the requirements of:
    • a resident labor market test (RLMT) exemption; or
    • a resident labor market test (RLMT) by the sponsor; or
    • an extension – continuing to work in the same occupation for the same sponsor
  2. 20 points for the Appropriate Salary
  3. 10 points for English Language Skills
  4. 10 points for Maintenance funds

Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer

The Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa enables an existing employee of a multinational company to work or get training in its UK branch for a specific vacancy that a settled or EEA worker cannot fill either on a long term basis or for frequent short visits. In fact, at present, there are only 2 sub-categories of Intra-Company Transfer visa i.e. Long Term Staff and Graduate Trainee. The Tier intra-company transfer visa for skill transfer and short-term staff discounted on April 6, 2017. Quite clearly, the ICT is a points-based visa. However, there is no requirement for proving the English language. Accordingly, for successfully applying for the intra-company transfer visa, an applicant needs to score sixty points:

  1. 30 points for an assigned Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  2. 20 points for the Appropriate Salary
  3. 10 points for Maintenance funds

Tier 2 Sportsperson

Certainly, the Tier 2 Sportsperson visa is only for an elite sportsperson or coach whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of sport at the highest level in the UK. Moreover, for successfully applying for the Sportsperson visa, an applicant needs to score 70 points:

  1. 50 points for an assigned Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  2. 10 points for the English Language – CEFR Level A-1 or above
  3. 10 points for Maintenance funds

Please note for Tier 2 Sportsperson visa there is no requirement for the Appropriate Salary.

Tier 2 Minister of Religion

Finally, the Tier 2 Minister of Religion visa is only for those migrants who intend to undertake preaching and pastoral work, Missionary, or Member of a Religious Order, and in each case are taking up employment or a post/role within their faith community in the UK. Accordingly, for successfully applying for the Minister of Religion visa, an applicant needs to score 70 points:

  1. 50 points for an assigned Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  2. 10 points for the English Language – CEFR Level B-2 or above
  3. 10 points for Maintenance funds

Please note for Tier 2 Minister of Religion visa there is no requirement for the Appropriate Salary.

Tier 3 Low Skilled Workers | UK Work Visa

The Home Office never opened the UK PBS Tier-3 work visa for low-skilled workers as workers from EU/EEA helped in filling the UK’s labour supply gap for low-skilled jobs. Therefore, after Brexit, there are chances that the UK government may either activate the Tier 3 work visa route or open a new route under Appendix W for low skilled workers.

Tier 5 Temporary Workers | UK Work Visa

The UK work visa under PBS Tier 5 route consists of:

  1. Charity Worker
  2. Creative and sporting
  3. Government Authorised Exchange
  4. Religious Worker
  5. Youth Mobility Scheme

Moreover, the Youth mobility scheme is only for certain nationalities. And applicants generally require having a job offer/sponsor.

New and Non-PBS Work Visas | UK Work Visa

Certainly, apart from PBS, there are a few works and study visa categories available to non-EEA nationals. These non-PBS study and work visas are for:

  • Global Talent Visa has replaced Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route
  • Start-up visa has replaced the PBS Tier 1 graduate entrepreneur route
  • Innovator visa under Appendix W, which has replaced the PBS Tier 1 entrepreneur visa for entry clearance applications
  • UK ancestry visa
  • Domestic worker in a private household
  • Turkish workers
  • Turkish businesspersons
  • A representative of an overseas business visa

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