Points Based System of UK Immigration Process and Tier 2 Visa


Cases concerning immigration to the United Kingdom (which includes limited stay) are handled by the Home Office. The Home Office, headed by the Secretary of State, grants or denies permission to applicants willing to come to the UK for various reasons that have been categorized. The entire process has been broken down into several ‘points’ that the applicant gains by fulfilling certain requirements of the visa process. Suppose an applicant wishes to apply for the student visa, he/she must fulfill certain requirements that are required by the Home Office such as proof of financial stability, that necessary accommodation requirements have been made etc. When the applicant crosses the minimum threshold of points required to be granted the visa in question, the Home Office will be obliged to grant the visa given the right proof has been submitted. This process is commonly referred to as the ‘Points Based System’ and the number of points required varies depending on the visa type (such as 70 points required for Tier 2 general visa, 75 points required for the tier 1 investment visa UK and so on).

The laws concerning immigration and the points based system are laid out in the Immigration Rules of the United Kingdom. The Immigration Rules serve as a compilation of all laws concerning immigration that have been passed over the years and have been broken down into different sections. Such as Parts 5 and 6 concerns the Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa category. Tier 1 covers categories such as exceptional talent, investor, tier one entrepreneur, UK graduate entrepreneur visa and general. Meanwhile, Tier 2 covers general, minister of religion, sportsperson and intra company transfer. 

This blog will explain the points based system concerning the UK Tier 2 visa type.

Exemptions under Tier 2 visa

Note that any person who is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland don’t require to apply for the Tier 2 visa. Also, if any person falls within the below listed criteria, he/she doesn’t need to apply for leave. The criteria are:

  • The applicant is a member of the EEA or a citizen of Switzerland;
  • The applicant is a citizen of a British Overseas territory (except for Cyprus)
  • The applicant is a commonwealth citizen of the UK, and has been granted permission to come to the UK or leave the country. It should be noted that the commonwealth citizen must also have at least one grandparent who was born in the UK. This is explained more in detail in the ancestry section of the Immigration Rules.
  • If the applicant is applying as a dependant of a partner who has been granted permission under the Tier 2 visa. This can similarly also work if the applicant is a dependant of a parent and is under the age of 18.
  • The applicant does not have any pre-set conditions or a limit to the time that he/she will be staying in the country.

Note that such exemptions for members of the EEA also apply for categories such tier one entrepreneur visa, UK graduate entrepreneur visa, tier 1 investment visa UK and many others.

Recent Changes made on the 6th of April, 2013

On this date, the United Kingdom government announced that it would be making changes to the Tier 2 visa category by amending the Immigration Rules. The Home Office announced that it will provide more flexibility to applicants applying as Intra-Company Transferees. It also announced more flexibility for employers who wished to proceed with the market test of resident labour. Among the changes the introduction of the Shortage Occupation List was also presented and a guideline for skilled workers titled as the Codes of Practices. The changes also aim to provide an updated version of the Guidance Notes to any sponsor of the Tier 2 category.

If you wish to further study the changes in detail, you can do so by visiting the following web address: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/employersandsponsors/pbsguidance/guidancefrom31mar09/guidance-t251.pdf?view=Binary

To study the Tier 2 visa category as specified by the Home Office, you can visit the following web address: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/working/tier2

Tier-2 General category and Points Based System

This category exists for any person who wishes to seek a job in UK that cannot be filled by any UK citizen. The person must be a foreigner (of a country outside of Europe) and should not applicable for the UK ancestry criteria. The applicant must also show a valid job offer and the job must fall on the Shortage Occupation List. The Home Office allows applicants to switch to this category if they are currently applying from another category or are currently outside of the UK.

The UK government also has set limits to the number of applicants that can come to work in UK. Such as a limit of 20,700 skilled workers was set between April 2013 to April 2014 who could enter the UK while applying for the Tier 2  (General) category. This was for skilled workers who earned below £152,100 annually and for workers who earned more than this annually, no limit was set.

Points needed to qualify for this category is a total of 70. This is broken down into several requirements that are needed to be fulfilled to meet this threshold. These are:

  • 30 points are earned when the applicant submits a valid sponsorship certificate.
  • 20 points are earned when the applicant submits proof of his/her salary including allowances.
  • 10 points are earned when the applicant proves that his/her English language skills to be of an appropriate nature.
  • 10 points are earned when the applicant proves that he/she is financially stable for this.

With regards to the sponsor, the employer who is offering the applicant the job must be willing to sponsor him/her and must be based in UK. This also requires that the employer have a license from the government that grants them permission to sponsor the applicant. This is categorized in the ‘Register of Sponsors’ which contains the names, locations and ratings of all authorized employers. The ratings given to the sponsor are either A or B at the time of joining the register. The ‘A B’ is a transitional rating that the Home Office gives to employers who are currently coordinating with the UKBA to improve.

The United Kingdom has promised to continuously update jobs on the Shortage Occupation List for the convenience of the applicant applying under this category. The division of the government responsible for regulating the jobs on this list is known as The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The current version of this list can be seen on the official site of the Home Office.

The Codes of Practice is a guideline document that has been created after careful advice was given to the Home Office by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and industry experts leading in their field. It should be noted that the job falling on the Shortage Occupation List must be done for at least 30 hours a week. There’s no requirement of the Home Office to secure any further points or any further qualifications if it’s on the list. Applicants automatically secure the required points if the job is listed on the Shortage Occupation List.

Note that in the scenario that the job offered to the applicant applying under this category is not on the shortage occupation list, it would be the responsibility of the employer to demonstrate to the Home Office that the job cannot be filled by any person in the United Kingdom or Europe. This is done by the employer by following a market test of resident labour.

Tier-2 Minister of Religion Category and Points Based System

Any applicant wishing to come to the United Kingdom on a post or position within the applicant’s faith community, he/she must fall within one of the following roles:

  • A person coming to the UK as a minister of religion to participate in preaching or activities such as pastoral work.
  • Coming to the country on missionary work.
  • As a member of a faith community to participate in a religious order.

The UK government categorizes pastoral work as one or more of the following:

  • To participate in regular worship or for a special religious event.
  • To teach children or adults where the subject of the education is of a religious nature.
  • Leading an event on a religious post such as a marriage, a funeral or any other special service.
  • To act as an official of a congregation delivering counseling or for welfare support to its members.
  • To serve in a religious position to recruit volunteers or to train them and coordinate with them.

The UK government categorizes missionary work as one or more of the following:

  • Participate in preaching or teaching activity in UK.
  • To serve in an organization that engages in missionary work. Note that the position the applicant will serve under must not of an administrative nature or on the post of cleric (unless it is a senior position).
  • To act in a supervisory position as a member of the religious staff.
  • To coordinate the work of an organization that engages in missionary work.
  • To serve in a technical position in a religious organization such as to manage accounts or finances, to manage the personnel of the organization or in an IT post.
  • If the individual is coming to the UK to translate religious text for the religious organization. Applicants should note that this is categorized as missionary work rather than clerical.

Applicants should also note that any person who wishes to come to the UK to teach at a school that is operated by the church or an organization of a religious nature cannot categorize the position as missionary work.

Furthermore, it should also be observed that the work being done by the applicant must be directed within the religious order or any work that the religious order has directed the applicant to do. However, any work during this period in an educational institution that is not supported by the order does not qualify for this Tier 2 Minister of Religion category.

Points needed to qualify for this category is a total of 70. This is broken down into several requirements that are needed to be fulfilled to meet this threshold. These are:

  • 50 points are earned when the applicant provides a sponsorship certificate.
  • 10 points are earned when applicant proves his/her English language skills.
  • 10 points are earned when the applicant provides sufficient evidence that he/she is financially stable to make this trip to the UK.

Tier-2 Sportsperson Category and Points Based System

This category applies to applicants who are of a professional stature in their field and are internationally recognized figures. It is also required that the sportsperson, by coming to the UK, to contribute to the development of the sport they are participating in. It is also required that the application be supported by the governing body of the said sport.

Any person who wishes to look up the list of governing bodies of various sports and their code of conduct, can view the details on the Home Office’s website. More information also exists on the Home Office’s website for other categories such tier 1 visa requirements, maximum period of stay for students or tourist etc.