The Points Based System

  • 1 The Points-Based System – the Five Tiers:
    • 1.1 Family members
    • 1.2 For information about the New Point-Based System please click here.
  • 2 How can we assist you?
    • 2.1 History of PBS
  • 3 When was the points based system introduced in the UK?
  • 4 What are the requirements for indefinite leave to remain under the points based system?

The UK’s ‘Points–Based’ 5 tier visa system is the primary immigration path for non-EEA nationals to enter the UK to work, study and invest. The Points-Based System was adopted completely in 2010.

The Points-Based System is divided into five separate tiers, and in order to be eligible for a visa under any of the tiers, an applicant must score the necessary points-based threshold. In working visa applications, points are typically awarded in relation to the applicant’s skill set and ability, their experience and their age.

The minimum points required for your application will depend on the Tier under which you are applying.

The Points-Based System sets out the requirements for migrants to come to the UK to work, to study or for some other economic activity. It is divided into 5 tiers (of which tier 3 is not in force).

The United Kingdom has now left the EU and the Government issued a statement as to how a new point based system will be introduced. From the 1st January 2021 EU and non EU citizens will be subject to the same Immigration Rules in the way in which they can come to the UK to work or to study. The Government will replace free movement with the UK points based system and although they will not introduce a general low skilled or temporary work route, it will open the Tier 5 existing routes which currently apply, to non-EU citizens, to EU citizens.

The Points-Based System – the Five Tiers:

  • Tier 1

Tier 1 applies to ‘high-value migrants’ from outside the EEA who are investors, entrepreneurs, or who are recognised as being of ‘exceptional talent.The entrepreneur visa was abolished on 28 March 2019 and was replaced by the start-up and innovator visa on 29 March 2019. Current entrepreneur visa holders can apply for an extension to their entrepreneur visa until 5 April 2023. As of 6 November 2015, the amount of investment funds that you must have access to in order to apply for an investor visa was increased from £1 million to £2 million. If you were granted a Tier 1 (Investor) visa before 6 November 2014 you can extend your leave as a Tier 1 (Investor) Migrant by applying for an extension before 6 April 2020 and you will only need £1 million of investment funds. Extension applications after 6 April 2020 will require £2 million of investment funds. As of 29 March 2019 the Applicant will need to have held their investment funds for at least 2 years and when making an application of extension of stay or settlement, investment in government bonds will no longer be available.

  • Tier 2

Tier 2 visas are for ‘skilled workers’ who are non-EEA nationals who have a job offer in the UK. This category includes skilled workers who are transferring into the UK via intra-company transfer, professional sports people, ministers of religion and skilled workers where there is a shortage in the UK.

  • Tier 3

was designed for low-skilled workers to enter the UK and fill specific temporary labour shortages. Please note that the Tier 3 Visa is no longer in force and that the government has not indicated that it wishes to re-introduce the Tier 3 visa. Instead, Boris Johnson has announced that he wishes to adopt an Australian-style points system to control low skilled immigration.

  • Tier 4

This is a two-tiered category, for both General Students, who are over 16, and Child Students. Applicants must hold an offer from a UK educational establishment which meets the sponsorship requirements. A General Student must have enough money to support themselves and to pay for the course. If the course lasts for 6 months or less, the Applicant can arrive in the UK up to 1 week before the course is due to start. If the course lasts more than 6 months, the Applicant can arrive in the UK up to 1 month before the course starts. How long the Applicant can stay depends on the kind of course that is being undertaken and the study that has already been completed. Tier 4 students who are undertaking degree level study can only stay for a maximum of 5 years.

  • Tier 5

is a temporary working visa, and is divided into 6 sub-tiers: Creative and Sporting, Charity workers, Religious workers, Government Authorised Exchange workers and the Youth      Mobility Scheme. Following the Home Office guidance published in April 2019, the Tier 5 visa no longer covers Ministers of Religion. Instead, Ministers of Religion should apply under the Tier 2 category.

Family members

If you are the family member of a Points-Based System migrant in Tier 1, 2, 4 or 5, you may be eligible for leave to remain.
The eligible family members are:

  1. Husbands
  2. Wives
  3. Civil partners
  4. Unmarried partners
  5. Same sex partners
  6. A child under the age of 18

How can we assist you?

Vincent is a top immigration lawyer in Hackney, London, and can help you with your application under the points-based system or your appeal.
The current government makes the UK less attractive to migrants in its measures to reduce net migration. At this time, it is important to obtain expert advice on the measures that impact those who wish to work, study and invest in the UK. Call us and we will be able to assist you in clarifying the complex and frequent changes which affect immigration law and policy.

History of PBS

The Points-Based System was introduced in Australia in 1979 and was first suggested in the UK by UKIP. It is designed to allow the Home Office to prioritise migrants with skills that are needed in the UK. It was also claimed that the points-based system would reduce racial discrimination.

The Points-Based System has been criticised for indirectly discriminating against migrants from developing countries, who may find it harder to fulfil the requirements of the system than migrants from other developed nations. A 2012 study led by economist Tito Boeri found that the origin of migrants accepted in the ‘highly skilled’ Tier in developed countries with a points-based system was heavily skewed towards other highly developed countries.

At the moment, the Points-Based System only applies to migrants outside the EU. Boris Johnson has stated that when the UK leaves the EU, it may adopt a Points-Based System for EU migrants. In July 2019 he proposed the introduction of a “tough Australian-style points-based system for immigration”, to be implemented following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The system is expected to prioritise high-skilled, high paid workers over lower earners, although the government is yet to publish a detailed account of their immigration policy post-Brexit. Read more about  Brexit Here.

When was the points based system introduced in the UK?

In 2008 the Labour government introduced a points-based system for non-EEA migrants who wished to come to the UK. It was introduced as a means of regulating immigration to the UK and its development was completed in 2010. There are currently five tiers to the points-based system, although the Tier 3 visa for low skilled workers is no longer in force. Following Brexit, the government has said that it wishes to extend the system to all migrants.

What are the requirements for indefinite leave to remain under the points based system?

Holders of a Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they have completed 5 years of continuous lawful residence in the UK.

Existing Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants can submit applications for indefinite leave to remain if they have at least 75 points for attributes.  A table detailing the points allocation for different attributes is provided on pages 43, 44 and 45 of the guidance. In short, you will gain 20 points if you have invested at least £200,000. You will gain an additional 20 points if you have registered with HMRC and Companies House as a Director. You will gain 20 points if you have created at least 2 new full-time jobs for those who are permanently settled in the UK. You will gain 15 points if you have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 calendar months during the 5 qualifying years.

Tier 1 (Investor) migrants must have a minimum of 75 points for attributes. The most important evidence to be provided is to demonstrate that the investment was made and maintained and that the investor meets the residence and absence requirements. The Applicant must not have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period.

In order to apply for settlement as a Tier 2 worker you must still be required by your current sponsor in the role recorded on your certificate of sponsorship for the foreseeable future. The levels of earnings required if you apply on or after the 6 April 2018 is £35,500. You can apply if:

  1. you have a Tier 2 (General) visa
  2. you’ve been living and working in the UK for 5 years and spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months
  3. your employer (sponsor) still needs you for your job – they’ll need to provide a document confirming this
  4. your job pays £35,800 or more (unless you’re exempt from the ‘minimum earnings threshold’)
  5. you get paid the relevant salary listed in the Codes of Practice