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Highly skilled workers

A highly skilled migrant reviewing their application

This section explains how you can come to or remain in the UK as a highly skilled worker under Tier 1 (General) of our points-based system.

What is Tier 1 (General)?

The Tier 1 (General) category allows highly skilled people to come to the UK to look for work or self-employment opportunities.

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Who can apply as a highly skilled worker?

Unlike sponsored skilled workers (who are covered by Tier 2 of the points-based system), you do not need a job offer if you are applying as a highly skilled worker. When you apply, you are awarded points based on your qualifications, your previous earnings, your UK experience, age, your English language skills and your maintenance (funds).

You can apply under Tier 1 (General) if:

  • you are already in the UK with permission to stay (known as 'leave to remain') in an immigration category that allows you to switch into Tier 1 (General);
  • you are already in the UK under Tier 1 (General) and you want to extend your permission to stay under this category; 
  • you are already in the UK under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), you want to extend your stay and you are eligible to switch into Tier 1 (General); or
  • you are outside the UK and eligible to apply for permission to enter (known as 'entry clearance') under Tier 1 (General).

Go to our visa services website if you are applying from outside the UK. There you can find out more about the process in the country you are applying from, and download the application forms.

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What to do if you already have an HSMP approval letter

If you have an HSMP approval letter, you should read the section on transitional arrangements for the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme.

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Are you affected by the HSMP Forum Ltd judicial review judgment of 8 April 2008 (extension of stay)?

If you have an HSMP approval letter that was issued under the requirements in place before 7 November 2006, and you obtained entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK on the basis of the letter, you may be affected by the HSMP Forum Ltd judicial review judgment of 8 April 2008. You should read the section on the HSMP Forum judicial review (extension of stay) for more information before you apply under Tier 1 (General).

You will not be affected by this judgment if you joined the HSMP under the arrangements in place from 5 December 2006.

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Are you affected by the HSMP Forum Ltd judicial review judgment of 6 April 2009 (settlement in the UK)?

If we sent you an HSMP approval letter on the basis of an application made before 7 November 2006, and you obtained entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK on the basis of that letter, you may be affected by the HSMP Forum Ltd judicial review judgment of 6 April 2009.

You should read the section on the HSMP Forum Ltd judicial review (settlement in the UK) for more information. This will tell you whether you are affected by the judgment, and will help you decide what to do next.

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