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Immigration to UK as a Tier 1 General - Highly Skilled Worker

What is the highly skilled worker category?

The highly skilled worker category is designed to allow highly skilled people to come to the United Kingdom to look for work or self-employment opportunities.

Who can apply as a highly skilled worker?

Unlike work permits (replaced by sponsored skilled workers - tier 2), you do not need a job offer to apply under the highly skilled worker category. When you apply you are awarded points based on your qualifications, previous earnings, United Kingdom experience, age, English language skills, and available maintenance (funds).

You can apply under the highly skilled worker category now if you are:

  1. in the United Kingdom with permission to stay (known as 'leave to remain') in an immigration category that allows you to switch into the highly skilled worker category;  
  2. already in the United Kingdom as a highly skilled worker and want to extend your permission to stay within your existing category; 
  3. already in the United Kingdom under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, want to extend your permission to stay and are eligible to switch into the highly skilled worker category; 
  4. applying for permission to enter the United Kingdom (known as 'entry clearance') under the highly skilled worker category.

Eligibility

What points you have to score to apply as a highly skilled worker

To apply under our points-based system and be accepted into the highly skilled worker category, you must pass a points-based assessment.

You must score:

  1. 75 points for your attributes (age, qualifications, previous earnings, and experience in the United Kingdom); and 
  2. 10 points for English language; and 
  3. 10 points for available maintenance (funds).

If you do not score a minimum of 75 points for your attributes and 10 points for English language and 10 points for available maintenance (funds), your application will be refused.

How the points differ for first-time applications and extension applications

The requirements that you must meet in order to be awarded points differ depending on whether you are:

  1. applying to enter the highly skilled worker category for the first time (initial applications) ; or
  2. applying to extend your existing permission to stay in this category (extension applications), or
  3. applying to extend existing permission to stay given to you under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP).

Who should apply?

What category of person should apply?

You should apply if you are a not a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and want to enter or stay in the United Kingdom to work in the highly skilled worker category.

You should apply if you are:

  1. in the United Kingdom with permission to stay (known as 'leave to remain') in an immigration category that allows you to switch into the highly skilled worker category;  
  2. already in the United Kingdom under highly skilled worker category and want to extend your permission to stay within your existing category; 
  3. already in the United Kingdom under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme and want to extend your permission to stay; or 
  4. applying from outside the United Kingdom for permission to enter (known as 'entry clearance') in the highly skilled worker category.

How many points you must score to apply

What categories points are awarded for

Points are awarded for the following categories:

  1. age; 
  2. qualifications; 
  3. previous earnings; 
  4. United Kingdom experience; 
  5. English language; and 
  6. maintenance (funds).

How many points you must score

You will need at least 95 points to be able to apply, which must include 10 points for English language and 10 points for maintenance (funds).

How many points you must score for your attributes

You must score a total of at least 75 points for age, qualifications, experience and earnings known as attributes. The points available are:

Attributes

Points available

 Age

 5 - 20

 Qualifications

 30 - 50

 Previous earnings

 5 - 45

 United Kingdom experience

 5

How many points you must score for English language

You must score 10 points for English language skills or your application will be refused.

How many points you must score for maintenance (funds)

You must score 10 points for maintenance (funds) or your application will be refused.

Supporting evidence

Sending original documents

You must send the original document, not a copy.

What documents you must send

If you do not send us all the documents we need when you make your application, your application may be refused on the grounds that you have sent insufficient evidence, and your fee will not be refunded.

You must send two recent passport photographs and your passport, along with proof of the following:

  1. qualifications; 
  2. maternity or adoption-related absence (if relevant); 
  3. previous earnings; 
  4. United Kingdom experience; 
  5. English language; 
  6. maintenance (funds); and
  7. HSMP transitional arrangements (if relevant).

Applications by dependants

How dependants can come to the United Kingdom

If your application to the points-based system is successful, you are allowed to bring dependants (children under 18 years of age, or your husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried or same-sex partner) with you to the United Kingdom, as long as we give them entry clearance or permission to stay (known as 'leave to remain').

Completing the dependant application form

If you have dependants who wish to join or remain with you in United Kingdom, you or they should complete the separate dependant application form.

We encourage you to send dependant applications at the same time as the main application.

Dependants' maintenance

What maintenance dependants must have

To qualify for leave to remain (permission to stay) as a dependant of a highly skilled worker, your dependant must show that he/she has enough personal funds to support himself/herself for the entire period of stay here.

You and your dependants should have already assessed the potential living costs, based on past living expenses, to ensure that you have enough funds to support yourselves.

You will not be successful in your application if you or your dependants are unable to meet the maintenance requirements.

If the main applicant under the highly skilled worker category is outside the United Kingdom or has been in the United Kingdom for less than 12 months, the family member must show that the main applicant or the dependant has at least £1,600 to support the dependant as well as the funds needed to support the main applicant.

If the main applicant has been present in the United Kingdom for 12 months or more, the main applicant or the family member of the highly skilled worker must have £533 to support himself/herself.

Settlement

How many years you must be in the United Kingdom before applying for settlement

You must complete a continuous period of five years in the United Kingdom in an eligible immigration category before you can apply for settlement, and you must meet all the requirements of the immigration rules before you are eligible to apply.

What immigration category you must be in to apply for settlement

Under the rules, to satisfy the five-year qualifying period for settlement under this category, you may include any periods of leave (permission to stay) under any of the following immigration categories that immediately precede your time here under the highly

skilled worker category:

  1. highly skilled worker (Tier 1 General);
  2. Highly Skilled Migrant Programme; 
  3. work permit holder; 
  4. innovator;
  5. self-employed lawyer; or
  6. writer, composer or artist.

The immigration rules are subject to change and you must meet the rules that are in place at the time that you apply for settlement.

How your dependants can apply for settlement

Partners of highly skilled workers are eligible to apply for settlement at the same time as the highly skilled worker, provided they have lived with their partners in the United Kingdom for a minimum of two years before applying for settlement.

Children of highly skilled workers are eligible to apply for settlement at the same time as the highly skilled worker, provided the child meets the requirements of the immigration rules.

 

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