On the 6th April 2010 the UK Border Agency will make significant changes to Tier 1 General (Highly Skilled) of the Points Based Immigration System (PBS). The changes will have a significant impact on highly skilled workers who are either planning to come to the UK for the first time on Tier 1 General or who are already working in the UK on another visa that allows an individual to switch into Tier 1 General (i.e. Tier 2 Visa (formerly UK Work Permit)).
Headline Changes to Tier 1 General
- Bachelors Degree Qualifications are to be reintroduced into Tier 1 General after a 12 month absence. In April 2009 following challenging economic conditions the UK Border Agency increased the minimum requirements for Tier 1 General from a Bachelors Degree to a Masters Degree. This change not only reduced applications from those looking to come to the UK for the first time but also the retention of existing visa holders (such as those already in the UK on a Working Holiday Visa (now Tier 5) or Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa)
- Significantly higher bandings for the Previous Earnings requirement are to be introduced (minimum £25,000 required, previously applicants only required £40,000 to score 45 points, now £40,000 only secures 25 points)
- 75 Points awarded for highly skilled workers with income of £150,000 or above
- Points awarded for age right up to 39 years of age
- Tier 1 General approvals will now be granted for an initial 2 years, after which time an applicant can apply for a 3 year extension. Previously applicants were granted an initial 3 years after which time they could apply for a 2 year extension
Tier 1 General Points Required
In order to qualify for a Tier 1 General Visa (formerly the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme Visa) an individual must score at least 75 points for Attributes (Qualifications, Previous Earnings, Age and UK Experience) and validate the English Language and Maintenance Requirements.
Qualifications Requirement (Maximum 45 Points)
The Bachelors Degree Qualification has been reintroduced into Tier 1 General after a 12 month absence. Bachelors Degree qualifications were removed from the Qualification requirement due to the recession in April 2009.
- Bachelors Degree Qualification – 30 Points Awarded
- Masters Degree Qualification – 35 Points Awarded
- PHD – 45 Points Awarded
In order to qualify against the requirement an individual must provide his / her original qualification. The qualification must be recognised as a qualifying degree by the National Academic Recognition Information Centre for the UK (UK NARIC).
Previous Earnings Requirement (Maximum 75 Points)
The Previous Earnings Requirement has been revamped significantly. Highly Skilled applicants with income above £150,000 will now be able to qualify for a Tier 1 General visa outright. Otherwise the minimum earnings requirement has been increased to £25,000 from £20,000 and the bands have been shifted up significantly.
- Previous Earnings under £25,000 – 0 Points Awarded
- £25,000 – £29,999 – 5 Points Awarded
- £30,000 – £34,999 – 15 Points Awarded
- £35,000 – £39,999 – 20 Points Awarded
- £40,000 – £49,999 – 25 Points Awarded
- £50,000 – £54,999 – 30 Points Awarded
- £55,000 – £64,999 – 35 Points Awarded
- £65,000 – £74,999 – 40 Points Awarded
- £75,000 – £149,999 – 45 Points Awarded
- £150,000 or above – 75 Points Awarded
Please note that if you are a contractor income received in the form of reimbursed business expenses will not qualify as a suitable form of remuneration. Ideally applicants will be able to show stamped and signed payslips for a 12 month consecutive period in the prior 15 months. Gross salary before tax and social security deductions will be assessed.
Age Requirement (Maximum 20 Points)
As the Previous Earnings Requirement has increased significantly the Age Requirement has also been increased with points awarded to individuals who are aged up to 39.
- Over 40 years of age – 0 Points Awarded
- 35 to 39 years of age – 5 Points Awarded
- 30 to 34 years of age – 10 Points Awarded
- 29 years of age or under – 20 Points Awarded
Applicants normally prove age by providing a valid Passport. Age is considered to be the age at which the applicant submits the application.
UK Experience (Maximum 5 Points)
- Qualification Obtained in the United Kingdom – 5 Points Awarded
- £25,000 or higher in previous earnings in the United Kingdom – 5 Points Awarded
Recognising Professional Qualifications
For some time there have been calls for the UK Border Agency to recognise a greater number of professional qualifications, especially those in Accountancy and Law. In the recent announcement the UK Border Agency has said that it already awards Tier 1 General Points for Professional Qualifications and that many Professional Qualifications already exist on the Points Based Calculator. All qualifications on the Points Based Calculator have been recommended to the UKBA by the National Academic Recognition Information Centre for the UK (UK NARIC).
The UKBA suggests that if an individual disagrees with the Points Based Calculator that should contact their awarding body and ask them to contact UK NARIC in order to assess whether the qualification is suitable.
Tier 1 General Applications
If you are a highly skilled worker who is interested in applying for a Tier 1 General Visa contact Commonwealth Contractors today for a professional visa assessment. The Points Based System is flexible and therefore regularly changes. Commonwealth Contractors OISC registered partners can ensure that highly skilled individuals stay abreast of the latest changes and give themselves the best chance of securing a highly skilled visa.
Commonwealth Contractors is a collection of highly skilled professionals from the Commonwealth and beyond. We partner with OISC Registered Immigration Partners capable of professionally representing a Tier 1 Visa Application / Extension and Tier 2 Licensed Consultancy & Associated Trust Partners who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor a doctor on a Tier 2 Visa (formerly UK Work Permit).
To find out more call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0330 390 9021 or Submit your details now and we will get right back to you. Please be prepared to send a copy of a recent CV so that we can pass to interested partners.