UK Immigration - Tier 1 Visa (General)

Tier 1 (General) applied to highly skilled potential migrants looking for a job or wishing to become self-employed in the UK. It replaced the Highly Skilled Migrant Program (HSMP). However, Tier 1 General path was closed for new applications in the UK by 6 April 2011.

Still, existing Tier 1 General visa holders need not worry, for they would still qualify under this category if they wish to renew their visas. Those applicants, who previously qualified for a Tier 1 Visa (General), can now apply for the Tier 2 visas under a points-based system (PBS). Please check out our Tier 2 Visas web page for more information on this.

Aside from highly skilled workforce, other applicants can also apply for a UK Tier 1 Visa in one of the categories given below:

  • Tier 1 Visa - Post Study Work
  • Tier 1 Visa - Entrepreneur
  • Tier 1 Visa - Investor

Tier 1 General requirements

General UK visa applicants had to fulfill maintenance requirements. Under the PBS (points based system), emphasis was placed upon a non-EEA national's proficiency in the English language. In Tier 1, with the exception of those entering the UK as investors, this requirement was particularly important.

Immigrants skilled in specific jobs were required to demonstrate their English proficiency by any fulfilling one of the following conditions:

  • Applicant came from a country in which English is the main language.
  • Applicant had passed an English language test which was equal to or exceeded level C1 of the Council of Europe's Common European Framework for Language Learning.
  • Applicant had successfully completed a Master's degree course which was taught in English

Points were awarded to Tier 1 (General) applicants based on their age, education, previous or prospective salary and other primary attributes. It is necessary to acquire at least 75 to 80 points through these primary attributes. There was no need for a formal job offer by a UK company to be in place in order to apply under this category.


Maintenance conditions required skilled migrants to support themselves and any dependents joining them in the UK. They had to provide documentary evidence of their finances proving this while submitting their application.

Specific requirements

The criteria involved with applying for a Tier 1 Visa in the general category was based on the previous HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Program). It took account of the applicant's qualifications, previous earnings, age, and any work experience or qualifications earned. These affected an applicant’s score on points based system (PBS).

Tier 1 General Visa extension

Tier 1 General visas were initially granted for a period of three years. Except for the Post Study Work category all other Tier 1 subdivisions have the same initial period of issuance. The points originally awarded for the applicant's age at the time of their first application was carried over intact. No further evidence was required of the applicant's English language ability.

Switching to Tier 1 Visa

An applicant can switch to the Tier 1 category under the Points Based System (PBS) if they meet the requirements of the category they intend to move to. In some circumstances, it is also possible for applicants to switch to a Tier 1 category from a visa type which precedes the Tier system.

Highly skilled Tier 1 visa holders in any subcategory can switch to any other Tier 1 sub category, except the Post Study Work category. Applicants in possession of Post Study Work category Tier 1 visa can switch to any other Tier 1 category or to a Tier 2 visa or Tier 4 visa in case they fulfill all points based requirements necessary for that category.

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