Immigration application process - the points-based system
The UK has an immigration points-based system to manage applications by individuals from outside the UK who wish to work, train or study in the UK.
A new points-based immigration system is now in place.
New points-based system
A points-based immigration system applies to everyone from outside of the UK who wishes to live and work here, apart from people from the Republic of Ireland and individuals who were already in the UK by 31 December 2020.
EU nationals have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU settlement scheme.
Visit the gov.uk website for more information.
Old points-based system
In the old points-based system, there were different education and employment routes available to foreign nationals (Tier 1 to 5 below). The tier system is being replaced as part of the new points-based immigration system with different criteria for:
- skilled workers
- highly skilled workers
- students and graduates
Visit the gov.uk website for details.
- 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 was introduced in January 2021, meaning that EEA and non-EEA citizens are treated 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.