Graduates from top global universities have the chance to go to the UK and work for two or three years under the UK High Potential Individual visa (UK’s new visa route launched on 30 May 2022). This newest initiative stems from an effort on the part of the UK government to create the conditions for UK companies so that they remain competitive in the global market, as well as to address the current skilled worker shortage that the country is facing.
If you wish to know more about the UK High Potential visa and whether you’re eligible, you should contact a qualified Immigration lawyer who may give further insight in light of your particular situation and help fast-track your visa application.
What Is the High Potential Individual Visa (HPI visa)?
UK visa policies have suffered numerous changes in recent years, owing, in part, to the country’s exit from the EU. With the launch of this visa, top talents from the EU and beyond have the opportunity of travelling to the UK and putting their knowledge and skills at the service of UK employers.
The High Potential Individual visa is a permit granted to individuals who have earned a qualified academic degree at a high-ranking university within the five years prior to the visa petition. It’s an unsponsored work route, meaning that you will not be asked to provide a Certificate of Sponsorship for the purposes of its approval. You don’t need a job offer either.
While this is a very attractive alternative to other sponsored options, this visa is not renewable, meaning that, after the allowance period has expired, you won’t be able to remain in the country under the same visa. However, you can shift to another visa, such as the Skilled Worker visa (if you found a job) or other similar eligible UK visas.
Under the HPI visa, you can work in most jobs, either under an employer or as a self-employed individual. Likewise, you may bring your family (partner and children) with you, provided that they’re eligible.
What You Can and Can’t Do Under a High Potential Individual Visa
UK High Potential Individual visas allow individuals to:
- Live with partner and children, as long as they fulfil the eligibility criteria.
- Look for and apply for most jobs in the UK.
- Perform voluntary work.
- Travel from and to the UK.
Conversely, they cannot:
- Extend their HPI visa.
- Practice a sport on a professional level (you will need a Sportsperson visa.)
- Solicit public funds or apply for State benefits.
- Be eligible for permanent settlement.
While the High Individual Potential visa does not open up direct avenues for permanent residence, you could still work towards legally establishing yourself in the UK by applying to other visa types in the meantime. A competent Immigration lawyer would advise the best course of action to take, depending on your current status.
Eligibility for High Potential Individual visa
The most prominent among eligibility criteria for high potential individual visa is for you to have been awarded qualification from any of the universities and institutions listed in the annual Global Universities List that the UK Home Office issues each November. This is a list that utilizes three different rankings as references, to wit: The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, The Academic Ranking of World Universities, and the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings.
Furthermore, the qualification must be no older than five years old and must be at the same level as these degrees:
- UK bachelor’s degree
- UK postgraduate degree
- PhD or doctoral degree
To verify whether your qualification meets the UK standards, you must submit an application to Ecctis – a UK official provider of recognition and evaluation services – and attach the results to your visa petition.
Apart from the requirement described above, as an applicant, you must:
- Show evidence that you can speak, write, and understand the English language at a level similar to or superior to B1 on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Language) scale. There are various ways to meet this demand, including taking a Secure English Language Test (SELT). If you are from a majorly English-speaking country, you would simply have to show the relevant ID.
- Demonstrate that you have sufficient means to support yourself financially during your stay. You’ll be exempt from this requirement if you have been legally in the UK for 12 months or beyond.
Validity of the High Potential Individual Visa
The HPI visa is valid for up to two years if you have a qualification equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree. If you have earned the equivalent of a PhD or doctoral level qualification, the validity period of the visa lengthens to up to three years. These periods are not extendable, nor will they entitle you to apply or an indefinite leave to remain.
How to Apply for an HPI Visa (Process and Fees)
The visa application must be submitted online, regardless of whether you’re inside or outside the UK. Most of the process is also carried out online unless you need an appointment to have your biometric data (fingerprints and photograph) taken at a visa application centre. The visa authorities may alternatively ask you to use the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app in order to scan your identity document.
The documentation you submit at the visa application centre will be retained there while your submission is under review.
If you’re already inside the UK, you could switch to an HPI visa if you are under a different type of visa, except for the following:
- Short-term student visa
- Graduate visa
- Parent of Child Student visa
- Domestic worker in private household visa
- Seasonal worker visa
- Visit visa
In addition, you’re not allowed to apply inside the UK if you are either on immigration bail or permitted to remain in the UK on compassionate grounds. In either of those scenarios, you’ll have to leave the country and apply from abroad.
The costs associated with the visa process are distributed as follows:
- HPI visa application fee: £715
- Ecctis verification fee: £210 from outside the UK and £252 from inside the UK
- Immigration health surcharge: £624 (multiplied per year of stay)
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a decision regarding my HPI visa application?
If everything is in order, you should get a decision within 3 weeks if you’re outside the UK or 8 weeks if you’re applying while in the UK. However, the process may get delayed if your supporting documents require further verification or you’re asked to attend an interview.
Can I study with an HPI visa?
You can enrol in courses and studies while in the UK under the UK High Potential visa unless the course in question is bound to a Student visa, in which case you may have to apply for the latter.
What is the difference between an HPI visa and a Graduate visa?
Graduate visas are for individuals who earned qualifications in a UK institution, while the High Potential Individual visa is designed for graduates who obtained their qualifications from institutions outside the UK. Neither visa demands the existence of a job offer, a salary threshold, or sponsorship.