UK launches Tiers 2 and 5 of new points based system

On 27 November 2008 the United Kingdom launched Tier 2 and Tier 5 of its "five-tier" points based immigration system. Tier 1, the entry route for highly skilled migrants was implemented earlier this year.

Tier 2 covers employer-sponsored immigration and replaces the UK Work Permit scheme. It also covers long-term appointments for ministers of religion, admissions for professional sportspeople, and intra-company transfers.

People applying under Tier 2 as general skilled workers will receive points based on their employer's sponsorship, their skill level, and other factors. People applying under Tier 2 as ministers of religion and sportspeople will face similar requirements as well as criteria specific to their category.

Tier 5 covers temporary employment for sportsmen, performers, charity workers, religious workers, government-authorized exchange workers, and international agreement workers. Like Tier 2, sponsorship by an employer, government, or other relevant organization is required.

Tier 5 also covers a youth mobility scheme (working holiday makers) which has different requirements.

With the addition of Tiers 2 and 5, the new five-tier points based system is 60 percent operational. Tier 4 for foreign students is expected to start sometime in the first quarter of 2009.

Tier 3, for unskilled workers, has been suspended indefinitely in favor of workers from within the European Union. However, employers who depend on these workers feel that the EU cannot provide enough workers to fill labour shortages, so there is still a possibility that Tier 3 will see the light of day eventually.