UK Tier 1 General Category Visa under the Points Based System of UK Immigration Process


The United Kingdom immigration process has been defined with the help of several laws concerning different aspects of immigration. These laws, currently in effect, define regulatory procedures for a wide range of scenarios an individual might be coming to the UK for (such as for study purposes, business purposes, immigration to UK as investor, tourism purposes etc). These laws are compiled in a document and separated into several parts, with the document termed as the UK Immigration Rules. Each part concerns a different aspect of the UK immigration process and visa type i.e. Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 with requirements, clauses, exceptions and many other such things defined in it.

In the UK, a separate department that handles immigration related cases exists, known as the ‘Home Office’. Headed by the Secretary of State, the Home Office is obligated to abide by the UK Immigration Rules as failure to do so could reverse the decision taken on the immigration case. It should be noted that members of the European Economic Area (EEA) follow a different procedure for entry and leave in the UK than foreigners who are not members. Mostly, EEA members do not need to follow a lengthy procedure for entry or stay because of the ‘Free Movement’ agreement of the EU which grants all EU citizens the right to freely move and settle within the EU. The way the Home Office treats visa applications is also dependant on the home country of the applicant. This is to say that a United States citizen will have a more likely chance of gaining entry into the UK than a citizen of India. This is due to the UK government assessing and being weary of countries that have abused the visa that was granted to them in the past.

Each visa type (Tier 1, Tier 2, etc) is divided into several sub-categories, each with their own procedure and rules for settlement, extension, entry etc. Each visa category also requires different number of ‘points’ off of the ‘Points Based System’. A measuring system put in place by the UK government to ease the process of fulfilling visa requirements. Each time an applicant fulfills a certain requirement of the visa he/she is applying for, a certain number of points are awarded. When the applicant crosses the minimum threshold of points required to qualify for a visa, he/she can be eligible to submit their visa application form.

The following article briefly explains the Immigration Process of the UK by taking a look at the requirement and rules of the UK Tier 1 General category. A category that is a part of a visa type created for high value workers. Other categories of the Tier 1 visa include the Entrepreneur category, immigration to UK as investor, the Graduate Entrepreneur category and the Exceptional Talent category.

Tier 1 General Category

This category of the t1 visa exists for individuals who wish to come to United Kingdom for work opportunities that are categorized as ‘High Skill Jobs’. This also includes individuals who are self-employed. If any person is applying for a visa on this category, he/she will not require a sponsor and are allowed to start businesses and enter the country even if they are self-employed. The UK government will look at the value of the work the individuals will be putting in while they are in the country. However, you will need to be switching from one of the below listed categories for this to happen:

  • A person switching to the Tier 1 General category as a Highly-Skilled Migrant.
  • As an artist, a writer or a composer.
  • Switching to this category from the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP).
  • As a lawyer who is self-employed.
  • If he/she was previously on the Tier 1 General category as a person liable to the Immigration Rules that were in effect before the 19th of July, 2010.

How many points under the Points Based System are required to apply for General category visa type?

An applicant applying on the Tier 1 General category will require a total of 95 points to be eligible for this visa. But, for applicants who are switching to this category from the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), a total of 100 points will need to be secured. Also, as you will see in the below listed criteria, the point distribution scheme for HSMP applicants varies from other categories of applicants switching to the t1 visa General category.

Points can be awarded for HSMP applicants however if they are under the age of 40. The number of points varies with age groups and is defined as:

  • A total of 20 points are awarded for HSMP applicants who are under the age of 30.
  • A total of 10 points are awarded for HSMP applicants who are between the ages of 30 to 34.
  • A total of 5 points are awarded for HSMP applicants who are between the ages of 35 to 39.
  • No points are awarded if the HSMP applicants are 40 years old or more.

Applicants switching to this category from other categories are also awarded points based on their age group. For all other categories, points on the basis of age are awarded as:

  • A total of 20 points are awarded for applicants under the age of 28.
  • A total of 10 points are awarded for applicants who are between the ages of 28 to 29.
  • A total of 5 points are awarded for applicants who are between the ages of 30 to 31.
  • No points are awarded to applicants who are 32 years or older.

Applicants from the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) are also given points based on their qualifications. The point distribution scheme for HSMP applicant qualifications is listed as follows:

  • A total of 30 points are awarded to HSMP Bachelor degree applicants.
  • A total of 35 points are awarded to HSMP Master degree applicants.
  • A total of 45 points are awarded to HSMP PhD degree applicants.

Other than HSMP applicants, individuals from other categories are also awarded points for their qualifications in the below listed manner:

  • A total of 30 points are awarded to Bachelor degree applicants.
  • A total of 35 points are awarded to Master degree applicants.
  • A total of 50 points are awarded to PhD degree applicants.

While the at least 95 points need to be scored for this category, up to 80 points can be secured by applicants based on their salary or earnings (for self-employed persons).

For applicants who are switching from the HSMP, the point distribution scheme is detailed as follows:

  • A total of 5 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 16,000 – GBP 17,999
  • A total of 10 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 18,000 – GBP 19,999
  • A total of 15 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 20,000 – GBP 22,999
  • A total of 20 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 23,000 – GBP 25,999
  • A total of 25 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 26,000 – GBP 28,999
  • A total of 30 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 29,000 – GBP 31,999
  • A total of 35 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 32,000 – GBP 34,999
  • A total of 40 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 35,000 – GBP 39,999
  • A total of 45 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings are more than or equal to GBP 40,000.

Furthermore, it should be noted that another 5 points can be secured if the applicant’s past earnings of a sum of GBP 16,000 or more than this amount was earned in the United Kingdom.

For applicants switching to this category from all other categories excluding HSMP applicants, the point distribution scheme for salary or earnings is listed as:

  • A total of 5 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 25,000 – GBP 29,999
  • A total of 15 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 30,000 – GBP 34,999
  • A total of 20 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 35,000 – GBP 39,999
  • A total of 25 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 40,000 – GBP 49,999
  • A total of 30 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 50,000 – GBP 54,999
  • A total of 35 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 55,000 – GBP 64,999
  • A total of 40 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 65,000 – GBP 74,999
  • A total of 45 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings range between GBP 75,000 – GBP 149,999
  • A total of 80 points are awarded to applicants whose salary or earnings are more than GBP 150,000

An additional 10 points can be secured for this category if the applicant can prove his/her English language skills. Furthermore, an additional 10 points can also be secured if the applicant can prove that he/she is financially stable to cover his/her expenses for living in the UK.

Can a person apply to permanently settle in the United Kingdom on the Tier 1 General category? And if so, what are the requirements that need to be filled?

Yes, individuals are allowed to permanently settle in UK if they are currently in UK on the General category of the Tier 1 visa. Individuals from this category will be required to live for a continuous period of 5 years before they can legally apply to settle. The UK has a legal criterion to count the period an individual has stayed in the UK termed as the ‘Continuous Residence Period’. Thus, the person looking to settle will need to be stayed in the UK for 5 years on the continuous residence period. If the person had switched to this category from any other category within this 5 year period, the time will still be counted if the applicant switched from one of the below listed categories (or in combination of these categories):

  • The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) category.
  • The Tier 2 Minister of Religion category.
  • The Tier 2 Sportsperson category.
  • The Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer category. Given this visa was granted before the 6th of April, 2010.
  • The Tier 2 General category.
  • The individual was categorized as an innovator during his/her stay in the UK.
  • The individual was a self-employed lawyer.
  • The individual was staying in the UK based on a work permit that he/she held.
  • The individual was staying in the UK as an artist, composer or as a writer.

Furthermore, the individual must have stayed in the country for more than 6 months in a 1-year period if the continuous residence period is to be counted.

Also, the applicant must have secured a total of 75 points if he/she have been staying in the country on a visa that was granted before the 10th of July, 2010 under one of the following categories:

  • A Tier 1 General category migrant.
  • A Highly Skilled Migrant.
  • An artist, a writer or a composer.
  • An individual who was a self-employed lawyer in UK.

Categories excluding the ones listed above (Tier 4 student visa, Tier 1 investor visa, Tier 5 visa etc) will need to score a total of 80 points. Additionally, the UK government requires the applicant to possess a significant degree of English language skills if he/she is applying to permanently settle (unless the applicant is less than 18 years of age or more than 65 years of age).