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Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)

Since 28 January 2002, the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme has provided talented people with exceptional skills the opportunity to come to the UK to seek work.

On 7 November 2006, the Government announced significant changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). HSMP is currently the only points-based immigration route into the UK. Applicants will be judged against new points criteria designed to better reflect the likelihood of migrants' labour market success and to bring the most highly skilled to the UK, helping to meet the Government's strategic objective to boost the UK economy.

What is the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme?

The programme is designed to allow highly skilled people to migrate to the United Kingdom to look for work or self-employment opportunities.

The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme is different from the work permit arrangements because you do not need a specific job offer in the UK to apply.

It is different from business routes such as the Innovators scheme because you do not need a detailed business plan; you do not need to create jobs; and you do not need to invest in the UK.

How can I apply?

You should apply to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme Team at the Border and Immigration Agency in Sheffield. You can apply from abroad and in most cases; you can also apply from inside the UK if you are here with Home Office permission.

Individuals already in the UK may apply to switch into HSMP without leaving the UK provided they have leave as a:

  • Work permit holder; or
  • Student who has successfully obtained a degree level qualification on a recognised degree course at either a UK publicly funded further or higher education institution or a bona fide UK private education institution which maintains satisfactory records of enrolment and attendance; or
  • Postgraduate doctor or a postgraduate dentist or trainee general practitioner; or
  • Working holidaymaker; or
  • International Graduates Scheme participant; or
  • Innovator; or
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland scheme participant.

Your leave to remain application will not be successful if you are in the United Kingdom as a visitor, on temporary admission, or without permission.

How do I qualify as a highly skilled migrant?

HSMP is a points-based immigration scheme. Points are scored in four main areas:

  • Educational Qualifications
  • Work Experience in a graduate level job
  • Past Earnings
  • Achievements in a chosen field.
  • Qualified spouse or partner.

You will also be required to supply specified required evidence to meet the mandatory English Language requirement

There are also separate arrangements for those who are applying through the MBA Provision.

You need to score 75 points or more and meet the English language requirement in order to qualify as a highly skilled migrant.

How long will I be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom as a highly skilled migrant?

At first, you will be given permission to stay in the UK for up to 24 months to seek work or self-employment opportunities.

After 24 months, you can apply to stay for longer and may be granted up to a further three years' leave, but you must meet the criteria set down for an extension of leave.

As a highly skilled migrant, can I stay in the United Kingdom permanently?

If you live here continuously for five years with Home Office permission, you can make an application for indefinite leave to remain.

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