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Points Based System (PBS)

Introduction to the Points Based System


The United Kingdom grants work visas to migrants using a Points Based System (PBS). When applying for one of these visas you will be awarded points depending on your:

  • Ability to speak English (this is called the ‘English language requirement’)
  • Ability to support yourself financially without relying on government funding (this is called the ‘maintenance requirement’)
  • Qualifications
  • Previous earnings
  • UK experience – you earn points in this section for any time you have already spent working in the UK


Most visas require a minimum of 10 points under the English language and maintenance requirements and there are some categories, such as previous earnings, that are not relevant to every application. You should read our section on the different categories of visa for specific details on each visa’s requirements.

Calculate your points


For an idea of how many points you have and which visa you may be eligible to apply for, you can consult our Points Calculator:


English language requirement (10 points)


For your visa application to be successful you must score 10 points for your English language ability. 10 points will be awarded if you can show that you meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You have a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification that was taught in English
  • You are the national of a country where English is spoken as a first language by the majority of people
  • You have passed an English test that has been approved by the UK Border Agency
  • You came to the UK on a Tier 1 (General Visa) or as a ‘highly skilled worker’ under the old immigration rules (this will only apply to people who are renewing their visas)
Maintenance requirement (10 points)


The maintenance requirement is mandatory for all visa applications. You must score 10 points in this section for your application to be successful. 10 points will be awarded if you can show that you have:

  • Sufficient income to pay for your living expenses. If you have any dependents, your means will have to be sufficient to support them as well.
  • At least £900 in savings. If you are applying to come to the UK on a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa, you will need to show you have at least £1,800 in savings.
Qualifications (30 - 50 points)


You will be awarded points depending on the highest degree you hold.

  • Bachelor degree – 30 points
  • Masters degree – 35 points
  • PHD – 45 points, unless you are already in the UK on a Tier 1 (General) visa in which case you will get 50 points for this level of qualification.


Points are also awarded for vocational qualifications. If you are unsure how many points your qualifications give you, a member of our highly experienced immigration team will be able to advise you. We can make sure any relevant specialised training you have done is taken into account so that your score reflects your level of skill.


Previous earnings (5 – 80 points)

You may be awarded points based on how much you earned in the 15 months before your application. You must have been earning this amount for at least 12 consecutive months when you apply for your visa. The source of this income can be in the form of a salary or from self-employed business activity. It cannot, however, be from any form of state benefit, inherited assets or returns on an investment. Our immigration team will be able to advise you on whether your income will be considered as part of your application and how may points you will be awarded on this basis.


UK experience (5 points)

If you have already worked in the UK or are doing so now, you can be awarded a further 5 points if you are earning £25,000 per year or more. If you are in the UK on a Tier 1 (General) visa or a highly skilled migrant under the former immigration rules, you will be awarded 5 points in this category if you are earning £16,000 per year or more.


The Different Categories of Visa


There are four types of UK entry visa in the Points Based System. Tier 1 requires the highest number of points and Tiers 4 and 5 require the lowest. It is recommended that you look at the specific requirements of the visa you are applying for as a minimum number of points may be required in a specific category.

  • Tier 1 – these visas are available to high value migrants with at least 95 points or 75 in some cases.
  • Tier 2 – these visas are for skilled workers who are sponsored by their employers. You will need 70 points to be eligible for this category of visa.
  • Tier 4 – this category covers students and children coming to the UK for educational purposes. 40 points are required for a successful application. Student visas have very different requirements from work visas. Our Points Calculator will show you if you are eligible for this visa.
  • Tier 5 – temporary workers will fall into this category. Generally, you will require 40 points to get a Tier 5 visa, including the 10 which are awarded for showing you meet the maintenance requirement.


Graduating Students


If you are a non-EEA national studying here on a student visa, you may be eligible to work in the UK after you have finished your course. You can use the points calculator to help you indicate whether you are eligible for either a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa or a Tier 2 (General) visa.


Our Immigration lawyers and immigration Solicitors can advise and assist you through the complex rules governing Visa applications.


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