The Tier 1 Visa (General Highly Skilled) replaced the previous and popular Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) some years ago and allowed working in the UK for an initial period of 2 years without needing a job offer. This visa was probably the most popular work visa for the UK and offered the most flexibility as you could work for any employer in any capacity, including setting up your own business.
The Tier 1 General Visa was closed to all new applicants on 5 April 2011 and is now only available to those wishing to extend their current HSMP Visa or Tier 1 General Visa.
In addition, Tier 1 General extension applications will not be accepted from April 2015 and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications from Tier 1 General visa holders will not be accepted from April 2018.
Tier 1 General visa holders who have a visa expiry date after April 2015 and who will need an extension to reach the ILR 5-year qualifying period are advised to extend their visa prior to April 2015.
Who is eligible for Tier 1 Skilled Migration?
Skilled workers who are currently in the UK
Workers who are already in the UK and want to extend their stay can now apply for the Tier 1 (General) category. This is the UK’s current highly skilled worker immigration system, and it replaces the former HSMP system.
People currently in the UK on Student/Graduate visas, Tier 1 (Post-Study) work visas and Work Permits who want to extend their stay in the UK under the Tier 1 system;
People currently in the UK on an HSMP visa who want to extend their stay in the UK under the Tier 1 system; AND
People already in the UK through the Tier 1 system who want to extend their stay on the same visa.
Skilled workers who are outside of the UK
Skilled workers who are currently abroad but are hoping to migrate to the UK are also eligible for Tier 1 (General) Skilled Migration.
Tier 1 (General) Basic Requirements
Tier 1 applicants must score 95 points in the Tier 1 points test. However, there are also Tier 1 mandatory requirements which must be met as part of the points.
Points are awarded to a Tier 1 (General) Skilled applicant based on:
Past earnings (at least the equivalent of UK £25,000 from the 12 months the applicant is claiming);
Note: Applicants who earn at least the equivalent of UK £150,000 from the 12 months they are claiming will automatically receive 75 points towards their application and automatically qualify provided they receive the mandatory points for English language ability and funds available.
UK work experience;
English language ability; AND
Funds available to maintain yourself while in the UK.