The UK has been phasing in the new five-tier points based system over the course of 2008, starting with Tier 1 for highly skilled migrants during the first quarter of 2008; This replaced the previous HSMP visa category.
Tier 2 will replace the current UK Work Permit scheme, which allows employers to hire skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to fill particular vacancies. Under the new system, employers will first be required to obtain a license to sponsor non-EEA/Swiss nationals. Workers applying under Tier 2 will need a certificate of sponsorship, and will need to gain a total of seventy points.
Tier 5 will cover a number of temporary employment schemes, such as the Working Holiday visa, charity work visas, and various amatuer sports and entertainment visas. Employers and other organisations such as sports teams will be required to hold a sponsorship license in order to employ people who come to the UK under Tier 5.
On 27 November 2008, a number of immigration categories will close. People currently in the UK under these schemes will need to extend their stay under the relevant tier when their current leave to remain expires.