The Points Based System

 Immigration Solicitors

The points based system (PBS) has been introduced progressively into the United Kingdom, and although itself forming part of the Immigration Rules, has replaced many of the old Immigration Rules that previously governed entry and remaining in the UK, in various capacities. PBS covers most of the previous categories, but some residual categories remain extant under the Immigration Rules.

Although PBS now governs entry in many categories, a great deal of the old criteria continues to apply under PBS. With a few exceptions entry under the points based system leads to eligibility to apply for settlement and thereafter for UK nationality.

PBS comprises five 'Tiers' (although implementation of Tier 3 - for unskilled workers to fill temporary labour shortages - is indefinitely suspended at the present time):

  • Tier 1 The forerunner for Tier 1, was the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). Under this Tier highly skilled individuals are enabled to enter the UK to contribute to its economic wealth and productivity.
  • Tier 2 This Tier replaces the old work permit scheme, and provides for skilled workers who have been offered employment in the UK to gain entry to take up that employment.
  • Tier 4 Tier 4 replaced and comprehensively built up the old Immigration Rules governing entry for the purpose of study.  
  •  Tier 5 This Tier provides for youth mobility and temporary workers - whose reasons for coming to the UK are non-economic.

Objectivity is at the heart of the Points Based System. It therefore rests upon the absence of any discretion exercisable by UKBA and Entry Clearance Officers/Managers when considering applications for entry clearance and for leave to remain. Applicants must therefore prove their entitlement to leave to enter or remain by the production of documents specified by the Secretary of State in guidance published on UKBA's website. Whilst the Rules specify that failure to produce the requisite documents will entail a finding that the requirements of the Rules have not been met, this is now subject to the decision in Secretary of State for the Home Department v Pankina [2010] EWCA Civ 719.

To some degree the application system is compounded by UKBA's frequent variation of the requirements for entry. Thus it is vital that those seeking entry under PBS (and other categories of the Immigration Rules) seek professional legal advice and/or representation.