PBS Tier 1 HSMP, Entrepreneur, Investor, Graduates

The UK’s Tier 1 visa immigration program is part of the new points based system for employment-based immigration.

Tier 1 visas are for

  • Highly skilled migrants
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Investors
  • Foreign graduates of UK educational institutions.
Tier 1 has replaced the programs that cover these categories. Tier 1 is designed to bring in top talent from outside the EU who are able to contribute the most to the UK economy.

Migrants coming to the UK and fall under Tier 1 visas are not required to have a job offer or a sponsor and are free to look for employment anywhere in the UK. An individual must score 75 points under the points based system to qualify to come to the UK under Tier 1. Migrants who are granted permission in the UK under Tier 1 may stay for 3 years. Following 3 years an individual may renew their Tier 1 visa.

Who Can Qualify

Tier 1 is designed for a variety of highly skilled individuals and is broken up into a number of appropriate sub-categories:

General Highly Skilled Migrants

The General Highly Skilled Migrants sub-category - known as Tier 1 (General) - is  designed for highly educated and skilled individuals who can score enough points based on their

  • Qualifications,
  • Previous earnings,
  • Age
  • UK experience.

Individuals planning to invest in the UK by establishing a business or taking over an existing business, along with being actively involved in operations of the business may come to the UK under the Entrepreneur sub-category of Tier 1. A minimum of 200,000 of disposable capital must be held in a regulated financial institution. Foreign nationals who are interested in starting a business in the UK will find the Entrepreneur visa meets their needs.


Wealthy individuals interested in making a substantial financial investment in the UK may come under the Investor sub-category of Tier 1. A minimum of 1,000,000 of disposable funds is required. Investors are exempt from the English language requirement and the requirement to prove the ability to support themselves and any dependents.

Post-Study Work

The Post-Study Work sub-category is designed to keep the brightest foreign students who have studied in the UK under the current rules or the Tier 4 system. It is part of Tier 1 because successful applicants will be able to find work after graduation without having a sponsor.

This is only designed to be a bridge to highly skilled or skilled work, similar to the previous International Graduates program it replaced. Individuals with student visas in the UK under Post-Study Work are expected to move into another part of the points system once they are able to do so.

To encourage individuals to make the move over, permission will only be granted under Post-Study Work for a maximum of 2 years and is not renewable. Time spent in the UK under Post-Study Work will not count towards permanent residence. Students must apply for the Post-Study Work sub-category within 12 months of receiving their qualification.

Tier 1 has replaced the following immigration categories:
  • The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)
  • Investors
  • Self-employed lawyers
  • Businesspersons
  • Writers, Composers and Artists
  • The International Graduates Scheme
  • Innovators
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
The Points Based System

In each category of Tier 1, points are accumulated according to 3 sets of criteria:
  • Criteria specific to each category, such as age and past experience in relating to the General Highly Skilled Migrants sub-category.
  • Migrants will need to score a minimum of 75 points to pass.
  • English language ability.
  • Migrants will be required to score 10 points in an assessment of their English language competency.
  • Ability for migrants to support themselves and any dependents
Individuals applying need to score 10 points in this area by proving that they have sufficient funds for their stay in the UK until they can find employment. Sufficient funds are based against the latest standard of living figures.

Individuals applying will be required to reach the qualifying mark for each of the criteria above in order to gain entry under Tier 1 and to remain in the UK when seeking renewal of their Tier 1 visa after three years.

Documentation proving an individuals ability to claim sufficient points will be required. Under the Immigration and Asylum Act of 2006 individuals applying from abroad will have no right of appeal when denied entry so it is important to make sure this documentation is in order.

Renewal of Leave Under Tier 1

Subsequent renewals under the Highly Skilled General, Investor or Entrepreneur sub-categories will be granted for 2 years. It is not possible to apply for an extension of stay under the Post-Study Work sub-category. Persons in the UK under the Post-Study Work sub-category are required to move to another sub-category or a different tier.

After 5 years, a person may apply for settlement. Note that time spent under the Post-Study Work category does not apply towards the five-year requirement.

There are certain requirements and restrictions when renewing a Tier 1 visa. Persons must apply for the same sub-category under which they originally applied and score enough points again.

Entrepreneurs must prove that an investment in business has been made and registration of the business was undertaken within 3 months of entry to the UK. They must be actively involved in the business and have created a minimum of two full time job positions for at least 12 months.

Investors must prove that 750,000 was invested within 3 months of entry to the UK and that the investment has been maintained throughout the period granted to remain in the UK.


People granted entry to the UK under Tier 1 will be able to bring their dependents under the condition that they can support them during their stay. Dependents include:
  • Children
  • Spouses
  • Civil partners
  • Same sex partners
  • Unmarried partners.
Dependents of people in the highly skilled Tier 1 category are be able to work in the UK as well. Note they will not be able to move into any points based system tier other than as a dependent of the main applicant to move.
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