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UK Tier Visa System: Everything You Need to Know

Tier system visa


Are you an immigrant looking to apply for a visa in the UK? It may be difficult for you to wrap your mind around the tier system that’s currently in place.

Thankfully, we’re here to help you.

Read on to learn how the UK tier visa system works.

How Does the UK Tier Visa System Work?

The UK Tier system is relatively new – just recently enforced in 2008.

This is a points based system that divides immigrants into five tiers. In order for your visa application to be approved, you must satisfy the minimum point requirement for each tier. Your points will be based on your age and ability to work in the UK.

Tier 1

This tier is reserved for those immigrants that are considered “top tier” immigrants. In order to be approved for a tier 1 visa, you must fall into one of four categories: entrepreneurs, graduate entrepreneurs, investors, and those who are believed to have extraordinary talent or talents.

But really, what do these four categories mean? We’ll delve into these a bit more.


Are you willing or able to contribute £50,000 towards a new business in the UK? Then the tier 1 visa is for you. The government approves these visas for immigrants willing to invest in new businesses in the UK.

Graduate entrepreneurs

This category is reserved for entrepreneurs who are recent graduates from a UK university. If you’ve recently graduated from a university within the UK, then you’re able to apply for this visa.

The catch? You must have proof from your university that you’re going to make a great impact on society. This means you should be considered highly skilled or innovative.


If you’re trying to apply for a tier 1 visa as an investor, be prepared to invest at least £2,000,000 into an already established UK business.

Extraordinary talent

What classifies as extraordinary talent? Part of the UK tier visa system is that the government wants to bring in immigrants who will make an impact on society.

Therefore, if you have extraordinary talent in the arts, sciences, engineering, humanities, or medicine, then you’re able to apply for this visa. Be aware that this is a rarely approved category.

Tier 2

This lesser tier also has four categories that you must fall within. These four categories are skilled workers who are moved to the UK by an international company, skilled workers in industries experiencing shortages, ministers of religion, and sportspeople.

Skilled workers sponsored by an international company

If your company is moving to the UK or you need to live in the UK to perform your work duties, you’re able to apply for this tiered visa. However, your business must prove that you’re a necessary part of the company. You must be sponsored directly by the international company.

Skilled workers whose jobs can’t be done by those already in the UK

If there are specific shortages for certain industries within the UK, you may be allowed into the country on this visa. Presently, there’s a shortage of engineers in the UK. So if you’re a skilled engineer you may be able to apply for this type of visa.


This should be pretty obvious. But ministers of any religion are allowed into the UK on a tier 2 visa if they have a post waiting for them within the region. This includes ministers, priests, or even missionaries who have religious work within the UK.


This does not refer to anyone who can play a sport. In order to qualify under this category, you must be an elite athlete or coach who is registered as a professional in your home country.

Tier 3

We will touch on this third tier, though it is no longer effective. This tier was reserved for low-skilled workers. These low-skilled workers would have been allowed into the country to fill positions for which there was a shortage of workers.

Because the government felt that unskilled workers are not necessary to enter the country, this third tier was removed. It is possible that with the advent of Brexit that the Home Office may open up the Tier 3 visa system and offer EEA nationals this visa to help continue the tasks by farmers workers and other low-skilled factory work.

Tier 4

The fourth tier is one of the easiest visas to obtain within the UK tier visa system.

If you’re a student studying within the UK, you’re able to apply for this visa. However, you must be enrolled in at least 20 hours of credits. You must already be accepted into a university within the UK in order to apply for this type of visa.

Tier 5

Are you only working temporarily within the UK? Then you’re able to apply for this visa. The tier 5 visa is broken up into six different categories:

  • Creative and Sporting – If you wish to work as a creative artist, athlete (not elite, or temporarily), or an entertainer, you can apply for this visa. Remember that this visa is only if you plan to work here for a fixed amount of time.
  • Religious workers – Missionaries or those who wish to preach for a temporary amount of time.
  • Charity workers – If you wish to contribute to charity work while you’re in the UK, you can apply for this temporary visa.
  • Government authorised work – There are many government programmes available in the UK. If you’re authorized to work for one of these programs, you’ll be approved for the tier 5 visa.
  • Youth mobility – Each year the UK allows about 50,000 youths to enter the UK to work. These are generally organized by the government. They are also perfect for those youths who are interested in learning more about life in Britain.

It’s Exciting!

Entering the UK to work is an exciting experience. There’s nothing more thrilling than learning the ways of a foreign country and calling it home.

However, there is a very intricate process that you must take in order to work and live in the UK. You must make sure that you’re properly applying under the correct tier that applies to your situation.

You also need to reach out to professionals who are experienced with immigration into the UK.

If you have any questions about your future immigration into the UK, or how to apply for the UK tier visa system, reach out to immigration experts.

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