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Points Based System (PBS)

What is the Points Based System?

The introduction of the Points Based System was the most radical reworking of the UK's immigration system in a generation. It involved the consolidation of 80+ routes in to the UK in to a structured 5 tier system. 

It applies to everyone who needs immigration permission to come to the UK to work or study, and to all organisations that offer them employment and/or courses of study. Applicants now need to pass a points-based assessment to enter or remain in the UK.

The five tiers and their implementation dates can be seen in the table below:


Tier 1

Highly skilled individuals in the following categories:

Exceptional Talent - for those who are recognised or have the potential to be recognised as leaders in the fields of science and the arts

Entrepreneur - for those who want to set up or take over, and be actively involved in running a business in the UK

Investor - for those who want to make a substantial financial investment in the UK

General - this category is now closed to applicants outside the UK and to migrants who are already here in most other immigration categories

Graduate Entreprenuer - for graduates that have been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea

Introduced in phases between 29 February to 30 June 2008.
Tier 2Skilled workers with a job offer27th November 2008
Tier 3Low skilled workers to fill specific temporary labour shortagesCurrently not in use
Tier 4Students Introduced in phases between the end of March 2009 to February 2010
Tier 5Youth mobility and temporary workers 27th November 2008


Tier 4 of the Points Based System

If you want to apply to extend your stay in the UK as a student you will have to apply under Tier 4 of the Points Based System and pass a points-based assessment.

Tier 4 consists of two sub-categories:

  1. Adult Student (also known as General Student) – for post-16 education
  2. Child Student – for children aged between 4 and 16 attending independent schools.

There is detailed information about coming or staying in the UK as an adult student under Tier 4 of the Points Based System on the Home Office website. You can also download the Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

We have produced a detailed Guide to extending your student visa which can be downloaded from our Extending your student visa through International Student Support website.

There are a number of responsibilities for both students and universities under the Points Based System. Whilst you are in the UK on a student visa you are responsible for complying with the immigration rules that allow you to enter and remain in the UK. Cardiff University also has legal duties as a licensed sponsor. More information is available from our Visa Rules and Responsibilities web page.


Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, Cardiff University can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions. Cardiff University is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within. The government makes changes to the immigration rules and procedures on a regular basis, so it is important that you check the current guidance and rules when applying for a visa. For further information visit UKCISA and the Home Office websites.