Tier 1 General Visa


Tier 1 Visa (General)

Skilled immigration to the United Kingdom is now enshrined in the Five Tier Points Based Immigration system. Tier 1 (General) allows highly skilled individuals who score the required points to immigrate to the UK without any kind of sponsorship from an employer. It replaces the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme and applies to skilled individuals including doctors, dentists, scientists, lawyers, engineers, MBAs, IT professionals and other educated workers. If you can speak English, have earned at least the equivalent of a bachelors degree, and can show that you have earned the required level of income in your home country, Tier 1 (General) is the right scheme for you. It provides independence and opportunities to grow your career and eventually qualify to live in the UK indefinitely.

In 2002 the British Government started actively encouraging skilled migrants to emmigrate to the UK. Initially this was through the HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) and now this has been replaced by the Points Based System of immigration of which Tier 1 (General) applies to highly skilled migrants. The Tier 1 (General) visa replaced the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) on 30 June 2008 and applies to all new applications. Those migrants who have HSMP visas are still covered by the old regulations relevant to HSMP and indefinite leave to remain.

Tier 1 (General) is very similar to the previous HSMP. The English language requirement is more stringent.

Specific Criteria

To qualify for Tier 1 (General) each applicant must score sufficient points. Points are awarded for past qualifications, previous earnings, age experience, maintenance and funds and English language ability. It is not a requirement of the Tier 1 (General) visa that you obtain a job offer before obtaining your visa or even before coming to the UK. This makes the Tier 1 (General) visa ideal for highly skilled or educated migrants wishing to improve their careers or advance themselves. The following tables show the points available for each specific criteria. A score of 75 is required to qualify:


Bachelor’s Master’s PhD
30 points 35 points 50 points

Previous Earnings

Like the previous HSMP, points for previous earnings are calculated by converting your income into Sterling (British Pounds), then the Sterling figure is converted to points, taking into account the relative difference in the level of earnings between countries. The difference is calculated using an ‘uplift ratio’ that is applied to the entered amount dependant upon the country from which you are applying. Different countries have different uplift ratios depending on factors. Please contact us for specific advice relating to your circumstances. All our ainitial advice is provided free of charge and without obligation.

In pounds per year Points scored
£25,000 – £29,999 5
£30,000 – £34,999 15
£35,000 – £39,999 20
£40,000 – £49,999 25
£50,000 – £54,999 30
£55,000 – £64,999 35
£65,000 – £74,999 40
£75,000 – £149,999 45
£150,00+ 80


Points are also scored dependant upon the applicants age. The younger you are, the more points you can score. Migrants under the age of 30 can score a maximum of 20 points:

Age Points
Under 30 20
30 to 34 10
35 to 39 5
40 or over 0

UK Experience

Previous Earnings or Qualifications gained in the UK 5 points

Knowledge of the English Language

To apply for a Tier 1 visa it is a requirement that the applicant is profficient in English. Evidence of one of the following must be provided:

  • A pass in English equivalent to level C1 of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language Learning (equivalent to a grade C or better at GCSE or an approximate overall band score of 6.5 on an IELTS exam)
  • That you come from a country where English is the majority language. This includes Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, the USA.
  • That you have taken a degree taught in English from a list of select countries, verified by using the National Academic Recognition Information Centre data. The countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, the UK, the USA. Note: Canada is NOT included in this list.
  • If your degree was earned in another country, information provided by UK NARIC can verify if the English-taught degree is acceptable enough to satisfy the English language requirement.

Maintenance and Funds

You will be required to score ten points by proving that you can support and maintain yourself and your dependants. The following is a guide of the level of funds you will need to show:

Tier 1 Visa Maintenance Funds
Applying from within the UK Proof of £800 in a bank account at all times for three months prior to application
Applying from outside the UK Proof of £2800 in a bank account at all times for three months prior to application

Evidence of maintenance and funds can be in the form of bank statements or an official letter from your bank. All documentary evidence must be originals only and copies are not acceptable. Letter from banks must be stamped. A printoff of your online bank statement is not sufficient evidence. The statements and correspondence must bear your name, account number, date of the statement and, the bank’s name and logo. For applicants applying from inside the UK, evidence of transactions covering the three month immediately preceding the application period must be provided. In some cases, where statements are not available, a letter from the bank on official notepaper, signed, dated and stamped confirming that the account balance has not fallen below the required threshold can also be sufficient for this purpose.


It is possible to extend your stay in the UK under the Tier 1 (General) Migrant sub-category. This can be extended for a total period of up to 5 years after which the migrant will become eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. Migrants seeking to extend their Tier 1 visa will be required to score 75 points. We will post a separate article about extending these types of visas in due course.


Tier 1 (General) migrants are permitted to bring their dependants with them to the UK. Dependants will normally be classed as your spouse or long term partner (minimum 2 years relationship), as well as all children under the age of 18 at the time of submission of the initial application for the Tier 1 (General) visa. Once children are admitted as your dependants, it will not matter that they turn 18 after they first obtain leave to enter the UK as your dependants. Dependants must apply separately as the dependants of the main applicant and must each obtain their own entry clearance certificates (visa).

Expert Assistance

Our expert and leading immigration solicitors are on hand to assist you in all aspects of UK Immigration law and policy. We provide a free initial telephone consultation on 020 8401 7352 and will guide you through what you must do to qualify for the Tier 1 (General) visa in detail. We have an excellent track record of advising and assisting our clients around the world and specialise in assisting clients with borderline cases or resolving difficulties or weaknesses in applications. We are highly specialised at appealing negative decisions by the UK Border Agency or British Embassy and Consular staff abroad and do not hesitate to seek a Judicial Review of any decisions that are manifestly unfair, unreasonable or unpofessional. We are known and respected by numerous British Embassy staff around the world as a no nonsense firm, with a sensible and workable approach to assisting our clients. Call us today for your free assessment and advice or email us and one of our expert immigration advisers will get in touch with you.

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