Last Updated: January 28, 2021

UK Work visa

The United Kingdom has abundant opportunities for people all across the globe - be it skilled workers or graduating students wanting to settle in the UK. Along with being a beautiful country that offers a rich, multi-diverse and fulfilling abroad experience, UK has kept its doors open for various paths of life. However, the opportunity of living in the UK has attracted an abundance of the population from across the globe, leading the country into introducing the Point-Based Immigration System and making it difficult to obtain work visas - which could eventually lead to a permanent residence in the UK. Although the Point Based system seems difficult, it is a lot straight-forward and easier than the previous system.

Below, we will be explaining what the Points Based Immigration System is as well as taking a look into the several "Tiers" of visas the UK has to offer, in detail.

Points Based Immigration System

Points Based Immigration System allows you to get a visa, if you qualify for the set regulations by the UK government.

The point-based system is most effective for people wanting to work in the UK and are looking for a work visa most suitable to them. Getting a work visa has its own set of requirements, that are put in place in accordance with the UK government.

For getting a work visa, an individual must be sponsored by their employer and should be able to get all the points that are required to be eligible. To be able to successfully work in the UK, you need to have 70 points; only then you are eligible to apply for the desired work visa.

Types of Visas

There might be several reasons as to why someone would apply for a visa to go to the UK. Whatever the reason may be, it may fall in one of the types of visas mentioned below.



Tier 1 Visa

The tier 1 visa category is arguably the most difficult visa to obtain. The Point Based system is very very important in getting a tier 1 visa and the requirements are quite a few as well.

Tier 1 visa includes business visas, which fall under the Investor Visa (Tier 1). An investor visa is for individual's who want to invest at least £2,000,000 in the UK. To be eligible for the Investor visa one must be:
  1. Have over £2,000,000 investment funds
  2. Be 18 or above
  3. Have an active bank account in a bank that must be regulated by the UK
  4. Are able to prove that the funds belong to you, or your husband, or wife, or your partner.


Note: The entrepreneur visa (tier 1) has been discontinued. It is possible to switch from an entrepreneur visa to any other desirable visa but it is not possible to apply for an entrepreneur visa anymore.

Tier 1 visa had another category under it which was known as an Exceptional Talent visa (Tier 1). The name of this visa has been replaced by Global Talent Visa as of February 20, 2020. This visa allows researchers, scientists and other achievers to be able to work in the UK and have a faster way to get a permanent residency.

Tier 2 Visa

Tier 2 visas have been renamed to be called as Skilled worker visa . This visa will be applicable to you if you have been offered to work with a UK employer who recognizes you as a skilled worker. To be eligible for a Skilled worker visa you need:

A Skilled worker visa is valid for 5 years. It can be extended further if you so desire to it can be updated if you decide to change your job. You can apply for an extension of the visa for as long as you want, as long as the eligibility criteria is met. You can apply for permanent residency after you have worked for 5 years.

Tier 3 visa

The tier 3 visa was a section kept for unskilled workers looking for employment in the UK. When the points system was introduced, government officials decided that having a visa for unskilled workers was redundant. Hence, this visa does not exist or has ever been active. The unskilled workers who can find employment in the UK have to be nationals of the country.

Tier 4 visa

Tier 4 Visa is reserved for adult students who want to pursue higher education in the UK. The visa has been renamed to Student Visa . The requirements for getting a student visa are as follows:

The length of your stay solely depends on the type, of course, you are applying for and its duration. Regardless of the duration, you will have an additional month to the duration of your course and that will be the day your visa will end.

You can switch from a student visa to a skilled worker visa if you have the opportunity to do so. Otherwise, if you are 18 and above and are studying a degree level course you are allowed to stay till 5 years in the UK. If it is not at a degree level, then you are allowed to stay for 2 years.

The application fee for the student visa is £348 (if applying from outside of the UK). The cost to extend the visa is almost £500. The fees has to be paid for each person that is coming along.

Since the student visa is usually for more than 6 months of duration, you would have to pay the health insurance amount as well. The health insurance amount depends on your home county, course type, visa type and the duration of the course.

Tier 5 visa

The tier 5 visas are visas issued to temporary workers, the government authorized officials, international agreements, sportsmen and charitable/religious work. The tier 5 visa has been renamed to Temporary Worker - Government Authorized Exchange visa and you would be eligible for the visa if you qualify the following requirements:

The application fee for a tier 5 visa is £244.
If you belong to any of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey; the application fee is reduced by £55 automatically.

Note: The application fee will only be reduced for you. If your parents/children/spouse is coming along, they will have to pay the full application fee.

Some important things to keep in mind:

  1. The Points-based Immigration System offers five tiers of work permits so extensive research must be done to identify which visa category suits you the best.
  2. The job offer must be confirmed before one can apply for the visa.
  3. The candidate must make sure that enough funding is available before applying for the visa.
  4. The necessary documents and their legible photocopies must be made ready. Enter all the information that is relevant while filling the application form and pay the application fee.
  5. Biometric information must be provided before one can submit the application.
  6. Once the work permit has been approved, the candidate must apply for the exact qualifying period of leave as per the chosen work permit to validate it.
  7. Dependent visas are available for accompanying family members.


Every visa tier is made for different requirements and reasons. It is important that you are clear about the kind of visa you would need since switching for a visa incurs extra charges and can only happen once you receive the visa you have applied for.

Note: Visa applications are processed by the U.K Border Agency and usually have a processing time of around 6-8 weeks so early applications are encouraged, but not earlier than a year, for a comfortable visa application process.

Be up to date

The UK changes its visa regulations and the names of the visas quite frequently. Hence, it is important that you keep up with the changes on a regular basis as it might bring important changes in your plans or might help you create a better plan if you are going to visit the UK for any reason.


Work Visa