Please note that since this article has been published immigration guidance has changed. Please see our post UK NARIC’s Visas and Nationality Service launches on 6 April which contains more up-to-date information.
The Points Based System (PBS) was introduced in 2008 and was designed to enable the UK Government to make better informed decisions about economic need and to make the process more straightforward and to improve the management of economic migration.
The key change to the system is that organisations wishing to bring migrants to the UK to work or study must register with the UK Border Agency (UK BA). Once employers and education providers have registered as sponsors they can legally bring individuals into the UK. The Sponsors Registers list all the employers and education providers that UK BA has licensed to bring migrants to the UK to work or study.
The PBS replaced the existing 80+ routes into the UK with five tiers. These tiers have changed a little since they were first introduced and as of December 2011 they are:
Tier 1 – High Value Migrants*
This tier is specifically designed for those that are going to make a significant contribution to the UK. There are very few visas available through this route (about 1000) and those wishing to use this route must be exceptionally talented or are going to invest very substantial amounts of money in the UK.
Tier 2 – Skilled Worker*
This tier is for skilled migrants wishing to work in the UK. The most important aspect of this tier is that the migrant must have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) before they can apply. A CoS is obtained from sponsoring organisations. In addition, migrants need to show that they are proficient in English and that they have enough funds to support themselves and their dependents.
Tier 3 – Low-skilled Worker*
This tier was designed for temporary and low-skilled workers. It exists so that the UK can react to any specific, low-skilled, temporary labour market shortages. This tier is currently suspended.
Tier 4 – Student*
Anybody wishing to study in the UK needs to apply through this tier. Students from outside the EU can only study at providers that are on the Register of Sponsors for Tier 4 and will need to have a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies this is obtained from the education provider. Again there are English and maintenance requirements which must be met.
Tier 5 – Temporary Workers and Youth Mobility Schemes*
This tier is for anyone wanting to do temporary work in the UK. Migrants will need a CoS and to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents. This route is also for young people from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Monaco who want to come and experience life in the UK.
The UK Government also uses advice from independent bodies on immigration. For example, individuals applying through the exceptionally talented category of Tier 1 need an endorsement from the Royal Society, the Arts Council England, the British Academy or the Royal Academy of Engineering. Similarly the Migration Advisory Committee advises the Government on migration issues, in particular the shortage occupation list for Tier 2.
UK NARIC also work very closely with UK BA supplying data to the PBS Calculator and advising on how qualifications can be used as part of the immigration process.
A lot of individuals applying to work or study in the UK use our services to support their application; in particular, they use the Statement of Comparability to clearly show that they have the necessary level of qualification and we have seen a significant increase in people using the UK NARIC English Language Assessment to help show that they have the necessary proficiency in English.*
To make sure you get the most up-to-date information please visit the UK BA website.
Over the next few weeks we will be having a closer look at the individual tiers of the PBS; in the meantime, if you have any questions please leave us a comment.
Tim Buttress, December 2011
*Please check the Home Office website to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information.