Five Tier Points-Based System

Any students or workers looking to enter the UK are categorised by the UK Border Agency using the Five Tier Points-Based System.

With immigration law constantly changing, we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice if you have any questions about your immigration status or visa.

Oracle Solicitors experienced immigration specialists are here to advise you and help you through the process of applying for a visa so contact us today.

What is the Five Tier Points-Based System?

If you are a foreign national wanting to work or study in the UK but you are subject to immigration control, you must first apply for a UK visa.

The UK Border Agency uses a five-tier points-based system with each tier divided into various categories for different types of work or study visa applications.

Tier 1 is for high-value migrants, Tier 2 for skilled workers, Tier 3 for temporary unskilled workers, and Tier 4 for students and Tier 5 for temporary skilled or youth mobility workers.


Under Tier 1 entrepreneurs and investors, highly skilled and exceptionally talented workers can apply to enter or remain in the UK without needing a job offer but must pass a points-based assessment. Tier 1 of the points-based system currently contains 5 categories:

  • Exceptional talent
  • Entrepreneur
  • Investor
  • General highly skilled workers
  • Graduate entrepreneur


Tier 2 skilled workers can apply to enter or remain in the UK with a job offer in the UK from a licensed sponsor, a valid certificate of sponsorship and by passing the points-based assessment (click here for Businesses & Sponsors). Tier 2 of the points-based system contains 4 categories of skilled worker:

  • General skilled workers
  • Sportspeople
  • Ministers of Religion
  • Intra-company transferred staff


Tier 3 of the points-based system is currently suspended preventing the employment of low-skilled workers from outside the EEA (European Economic Area).


Under Tier 4 students can apply to enter the UK as a child student between 4 and 17 years old, as an adult student over 18, alternatively as a child or student visitor. There are 4 categories to choose from:

  • Tier 4 (Child)
  • Tier 4 (General)
  • Child Visitors
  • Student Visitors


Under Tier 5 temporary skilled workers can apply to enter the UK for a short time although generally, they will need to be sponsored by an employer in the UK. There is 5 categories of temporary worker here, plus the youth mobility category (note, the youth mobility scheme is not an employment route):

  • Creative and sporting
  • Charity workers
  • Religious workers
  • Government authorised exchange
  • International agreement
  • Youth mobility scheme

If you currently have permission to stay in the UK you may be able to switch to or from your category and/or tier from inside the UK although this will involve a fresh points-based assessment.

How can we help you?

Contact us at the Oracle office nearest to you or submit an inquiry online.

At Oracle Solicitors we understand the importance of fair, simple and clear information to our clients. We have therefore adopted a simple fixed fee structure for all immigration work. We charge a fixed fee of £850.00 for most applications, we will provide you with a fixed fee quote in relation to these applications at the initial consultation.

What services are included

  • Considering documents
  • Attending on the client
  • Taking their instructions and providing advice
  • Preparing and submitting the application
  • Advising the client on timelines and the outcome of their application
  • Discussing your circumstances in detail and confirming whether this is the most appropriate application for you to make and what other options may be available to you;
  • Giving you advice about the requirements of the Immigration Rules and whether you meet the criteria.
  • If you do not fulfil certain criteria, whether this can be overcome and how;
  • Considering the supporting evidence you have provided, where necessary, helping you obtain further evidence (such as medical records and bank statements), including taking statements of any witnesses;
  • Preparing your application and submitting it on your behalf;
  • Attendance at a Home Office interview: if the Home Office ask you to attend an interview, we will give you clear advice (and discuss the possibility of us attending with you) at the appropriate time;
  • Giving you advice about the outcome of the application and any further steps you need to take.

How long will my application take?

We cannot guarantee how long the Home Office will take to process your application. Read the current processing times. We will normally be able to submit your application within 4 weeks of you instructing us, but we will let you know at the earliest opportunity if it is likely to take longer than this.

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