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New points based immigration system

The immigration system in the UK is undergoing radical changes over 2008 and 2009 with the introduction of a Points Based System (PBS). PBS will consist of 5 tiers. Below you can find information on what each tier covers and a timetable of when they are expected to be introduced:

  • Tier 1 of the system, which caters for highly skilled migrants, will be launched in the first quarter of 2008;
  • Tier 2, targeting skilled workers with a job offer will come on line in the third quarter of 2008;
  • Tier 3 for limited numbers of low-skilled workers needed to fill temporary labour shortages;
  • Tier 4, for students, will be launched in April 2009;
  • Tier 5, for youth mobility and temporary workers will come on line in the third quarter of 2008.
It is important to be aware that PBS is still in development and certain aspects may change between now and when each tier is implemented. Details of how the system will operate are still very limited. You can keep up-to-date by looking at the Home Office website.

A timetable of when each tier and category will be introduced can be found from the Home Office website.

Key documents have also been published by the Home Office which you may find useful. These include statements of intent and changes which give specific details about requirements under PBS.

The International Ofifce will continue to post information on these news pages when available but if you require any further assistance in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tier 1 is the first to be introduced. This tier will be divided into four sub-categories: ‘General’, ‘Entrepreneurs’, ‘Investors’ and ‘Post-Study Work’.

The ‘General’ sub-category was introduced on 29 February 2008 for applications made in the UK and on 1 April 2008 for applicants applying in India. It will be rolled out to other overseas applicants in the summer of 2008. This sub-category replaces the current Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP). The other sub-categories will be launched later.

In summary, the main aspects of tier 1 (General) are:

  • An application will be made in one stage. The cost will be £750 in the UK or £600 overseas and if successful, a visa will be granted for 3 years.
  • An applicant must obtain 95 points in total with 75 points being scored under attributes (qualification, age, previous earnings and UK experience). A further 10 points need to be scored for English language and another 10 points for maintenance funds.
  • There is no longer provision for MBA students of specific business schools to be automatically awarded 75 points.
  • The English language requirement can be met in several ways: applicants must have passed a test equivalent to grade C at GCSE, or have come from a majority English speaking country (all countries are listed by the Home Office) or have taken a degree taught in English (verified by NARIC).
  • Applicants must show they have maintenance funds of £800 if they are applying in the UK or £2,800 if applying from outside the UK. There are also guidelines on how much money applicants will need if they have dependants applying with them.


The sub-category ‘Post-Study Work’ will incorporate what is now called the International Graduates Scheme (IGS). Applications under this category can be made from the summer of 2008.

The rules for the ‘Post-Study Work’ category have still not been confirmed but current thinking indicates that:

  • A visa under this category will be issued for 2 years. It will be non-renewable.
  • Applicants will need to score 75 points under this category relating to their qualification to be eligible to apply. Applicants also need to score a mandatory 10 points for maintenance funds.
  • There will be provision for people previously granted leave under the International Graduates Scheme to apply for a further 12 months under the ‘Post-Study Work’ sub-category to equal the 2 year entitlement under PBS. For more information on transitional arrangements, see the UKBA website.