UK Immigration

The Home Office’s Points-Based System is the UK’s immigration regime relating to those wishing to apply for admission to enter the UK and permission to remain for all forms of business and employment related immigration, as well as those who wish to study in the UK.

Rees Clayton provides specialist advice and legal representation throughout the application process of the Points-Based System, both for applicants themselves and for the employers and education providers who sponsor them.

Rees Clayton’s experienced caseworkers and lawyers can also assist on the full range of applications, including visa applications, applications for British citizenship and legal challenges to unsuccessful applications.

The Points-Based System

The Home Office’s Points-Based System has replaced the previous range of immigration routes for those seeking to enter the United Kingdom for employment, to invest in the UK, to set up in business or to study in the UK, although many of the criteria which used to be applicable to those routes continue to operate for qualification under the new system. With a few exceptions entry under the Points-Based System leads to eligibility to apply for settlement and thereafter for UK nationality.

The Points-Based System is comprised of five “Tiers”.

Eligibility for entry under the Points-Based System is heralded as being genuinely objective. A key feature of this is the absence of any discretion exercisable by the Home Office’s staff when considering applications for entry clearance and for leave to remain. To this end applicants must prove their entitlement to leave to enter or remain by the production of documents specified by the Secretary of State in guidance published on the Home Office’s website. The Immigration Rules point out that if an application is not accompanied by these specified documents it will not meet the requirements of the Rules.

The requirements for eligibility under each Tier are subject to frequent variation. Keeping abreast of the law is therefore a fulltime occupation and there are many pitfalls for the unwary. Anyone making an application under the Points-Based System is strongly advised to obtain professional legal advice.

Tier 1 – High net worth clients

The Tier 1 visa is for business people, investors & exceptionally talented individuals. These are the categories available:

  • Tier 1 (General) – for highly skilled workers (this subcategory is closed and being phased out. If you would still like information on this route, please contact us).
  • Tier 1 (Investor)– for people of substantial financial means making an investment in the UK.
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) – for those wishing to establish a business in the UK or to take over an existing business. People can visit the UK as “prospective entrepreneurs” in order to secure agreements which may entitle them to remain as Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrants.
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) – a new category comprised of those wishing to develop a business idea immediately upon graduating, and who have been identified by UK universities as having developed world-class innovative or entrepreneurial skills, but who are not at the time of their graduation (and, presumably at the time of the expiry of their leave to remain as a Tier 4 (General Student) in a position to meet the full requirements of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route.

Additionally graduates from outside the European Area who have studied in UK educational institutions and who have been identified by their college as having ”world class innovative ideas” are entitled to switch from Tier 4 into Tier 1.

  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)– for “exceptionally talented individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts”.
  • Tier 1 (Post-study work)– this was a route for graduates from UK educational institutions whereby they are enabled to work in the UK for a period of two years. From 6 April 2012 this category was closed to all application.

Please contact us at Rees Clayton Solicitors for more information

Tier 2 – Sponsorship by UK Companies

Tier 2 visas are available for skilled non-European Economic Area (EEA) migrants seeking to enter the UK for the purpose of employment.

Non-European Economic Area migrants who do not have permission to work in the UK can only gain sponsorship with employers that hold a valid Sponsor Licence. For more information, see Tier 2 Visas under the Points Based System and our Corporate Immigration section.

Tier 4 – General

The necessary points for attributes under Appendix A of the Tier 4 policy guidance are awarded to applicants seeking entry clearance on the basis of their “Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies” which is issued by the applicant’s sponsoring education provider.

Students are not required to score points for command of the English language under Appendix B, but must be proficient in English to level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference if they are studying at degree level or above, or to level B1 if they are studying at below degree level.

There are stringent requirements to obtain the necessary points for maintenance under Appendix C, particularly if the student’s course of study is in inner London.

Entry clearance is issued to applicants in the Tier 4 (General) student subcategory for the duration of the course, with a flexible period of additional leave for the period before the course. It is open to Tier 4 (General) students to apply for further leave to remain in the UK, but by changes in the Immigration Rules (HC 1888) which are operational from 6 April 2012 the maximum amount of time for which a person may spend studying at degree level as a Tier 4 (General) migrant has been fixed at five years (with some minor exceptions).

Family Members of Tier 4 Migrants

Tier 4 (General) students can only be joined in the UK by their family members if they are studying at postgraduate level on a course lasting longer than 12 months, or if they are sponsored by their own national governments on courses lasting at least 6 months.

The new Tier 4 rules have applied to any new student and his or her family members since 4 July 2011. There are transitional provisions for those already in the UK with leave to remain as a Tier 4 (General) student or as his or her dependant.

Statement of Changes HC 1888 (March 2012)  implemented stringent new provisions in the Immigration Rules whereby the leave to enter or remain granted to any Tier 4 General Student who does not turn up for the course of study for which he or she is sponsored must be curtailed.

Tier 5 – Temporary Workers

Tier 5 of the points-based system is for people travelling to the UK to work temporarily under a Temporary Worker visa  or the Youth Mobility Scheme.

This subcategory covers temporary workers from specialist professions to come to the UK to work for periods of both up to 12 months and up to 24 months.

  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Charity Worker) visa This category is for overseas national wanting to undertake unpaid voluntary work for a registered charity in the UK.
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and sporting) visa This category is for temporary workers within the creative and sporting fields. Sportspersons need to make a significant contribution to their field of sport at the highest level to be eligible. Creative workers must make a unique contribution to the UK labour market – this includes models, musician, actors and actresses in film, television and theatre.
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa This category can be used for those seeking entry to the UK for a short period of time to undertake a period of paid work experience such as an internship. There are various approved schemes in operation to facilitate this.
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – International Agreement) visa This category is for those contracted to do work covered by international law while in the UK, for example working for a foreign government or as a private servant in a diplomatic household.
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Religious Worker) visa You may qualify for this category if you want to do religious work, such as preaching or working in a religious order in the UK.
  • Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa This category is the replacement for the Worker Holidaymaker route. Enabling people from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea and Taiwan, as well as British Overseas Territories Citizens or British Nationals (overseas) who are aged 18-30 to  life in the UK for a period of up to two years.

Tier 5 – Temporary Workers

This subcategory enables people to come to the UK for:

  • up to 12 months in order to work or to perform temporarily as sportspeople, entertainers or creative artists or as charity workers doing temporary and voluntary work for a charity;
  • up to 24 months as a temporary religious worker, as part of a Government Authorised Exchange, or under contract to do work that is covered under various international agreements. This last category includes private servants in diplomatic households.

These periods of leave can be made up of consecutive shorter periods, each of which must be of not more than three months.

British Citizenship and Nationality

British Nationality

British nationality law is one of the most complicated and complex laws in the world, in part because of Britain’s history and historical relationship with other countries in the world. In some cases it will be necessary to go back several generations to identify whether an individual is a British citizen or is entitled to apply for British citizenship.

There are six different types of British nationality. These are:

  • British citizenship
  • British overseas territories citizen
  • British overseas citizen
  • British subject
  • British national (overseas)
  • British protected person


There are then two types of British citizenship, those who are “British citizens otherwise than by descent”, and those who are “British citizens by descent”. Being a “British citizen otherwise than by descent” is more advantageous then “by descent”.

Determining whether an individual automatically qualifies as a British citizen depends on three factors:

  • Where they were born;
  • When they were born; and
  • Their parents’ circumstances

Our Fees

Visit our Immigration fees page to see a list of our fixed fees for legal advice. Please feel free to call us for a no obligation discussion and quote.