Immigration application process - the points-based system
The UK immigration points-based system is the process used to manage applications by individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland wishing to work, train or study in the UK.
Within the points-based system, there are different education and employment routes available to foreign nationals:
- Tier 1 (General): this route is closed to new applicants and extension applicants
- Tier 1 (Post-study work): previously granted to individuals, who had graduated from a UK university under Tier 4, two years of leave to remain with the ability to work without a sponsor. This route is now closed to all new applicants
- Tier 2: applies to skilled workers who are offered a sponsorship to fill gaps in the UK labour force (previously the work permit route)
- Tier 4 (Student): applies to individuals from outside the EEA who wish to study at a UK university. Individuals will need to be sponsored by the educational establishment to undertake their studies. Students who are part of the 2020/21 intake will be able to obtain a 2-year post-study work visa, which allows them to look for work after graduating for two years and then switch onto the skilled work visa if they find a suitable role. Information on this is available on the gov.uk website.
- Tier 5: applies to individuals on a youth mobility scheme and temporary workers who are allowed to work in the UK for a limited period of time to satisfy primarily non-economic objectives such as exchange schemes
Are you eligible?
The number of points required and the way points are awarded depends on the Tier you are applying under, but will reflect your qualifications, experience, age, previous earnings and language competence.
Under the points-based system, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will decide who is admitted or allowed to stay in the UK. Information about the points-based system is available on the UKVI website and may be subject to change. A new immigration system is scheduled to be introduced in January 2021, with the new system treating EEA and non-EEA citizens equally. Further detail is available on the gov.uk website.
If you are an international medical graduate (IMG) or doctor from outside the EEA you can apply for, and take up employment in, training posts that may qualify for sponsorship under Tier 2 (General). You can find more about these employment opportunities under Tier 2 on the NHS Jobs website.