What is the change? The U.K. government’s announcement of changes to the Points-Based System includes changes to Tier 1, Tier 4 and Tier 5 sponsors.

What does the change mean? The changes include expansion and easing of restrictions under Tier 1, country-specific relaxation of rules under the Tier 4 student category, and a new government-authorized teaching exchange program under the Tier 5 category.

  • Implementation timeframe: April 6, 2014.
  • Visas/permits affected: Points-Based System applications under Tier 1, Tier 4 and Tier 5.
  • Who is affected: Companies sponsoring workers under the above categories.
  • Impact on processing times: None; impact is on qualification requirements.
  • Business impact: The changes generally provide more flexibility under the affected categories.

Background: The U.K. government is making a package of changes to Points-Based System work routes to improve flexibility for sponsors and applicants and boost the U.K. economy.

We reported the major changes to Tier 2 sponsorship last week.

Here are the major changes for Tier 1, Tier 4 and Tier 5 sponsors:

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) – Category will be expanded to include the digital technology sector.
– Applicants can apply from any country overseas.
– Time in other immigration categories will count towards qualifying for settlement.
Tier 1 (Investor) – Extensions allowed for exceptionally compelling reasons where there has been a delay in investing (more than three months after grant), if the reasons were unforeseeable and outside the investor’s control.
– Investors who do not invest within the first three months may still have their leave curtailed and will have to wait longer before they become eligible to apply for settlement.
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) – Ring-fencing of places for MBA graduates will be removed.
– Current restrictions on participants’ graduation dates will be removed.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) – Applicants can qualify for this category on the basis of funds invested in their businesses up to 12 months before they apply. This is being widened to 24 months for applicants switching from the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur).
Tier 4 (Students) – Nationals of Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates will be added to the list of those who benefit from lesser documentary requirements.
– However, nationals of countries on this list will no longer be exempt from the test to determine if they are genuine students when applying for Tier 4 visas.
Tier 5 (Government Authorized Exchange) – Creation of new category for overseas government-sponsored language teachers. The purpose is to share knowledge and awareness of foreign languages and cultures in the U.K.
– The first program is a Mandarin teaching program designed to foster positive cultural relations between the U.K. and China.

BAL Analysis: These changes signal the U.K. government’s efforts to expand certain categories to attract more talent from foreign graduate entrepreneurs, investors and digital technology workers, and to promote greater cultural and language exchange.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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