High Potential Individual visa route

The High Potential Individual visa route opened on 30 May 2022, allowing graduates of "top global universities” to come to work in the UK without a job offer.

The route has been designed to make it as simple as possible for internationally mobile individuals who demonstrate high potential through academic achievement to come to the UK.

The visa will cost £715 and is subject to the immigration health surcharge. In order to qualify for a High Potential Individual visa, individuals will need to:

  • be aged 18 or over;
  • meet the academic requirements;
  • be competent in the English Language; and
  • meet financial requirements

Academic Requirements

Applicants will need to have graduated from a qualifying university in the five years before they apply. The qualifying universities will be set out annually on the Global Universities List. The list will include institutions which appear in the top 50 in at least two of the following three rankings:

  • Times Higher Education World University rankings
  • Quacquarelli Symonds World University rankings
  • The Academic Ranking of the World Universities

The degree the applicant holds can be in any discipline but must be equivalent to not less than a UK Bachelor’s degree. Applicants holding Bachelor’s or Master's qualifications from a qualifying university will be eligible for two-year visas, while those holding the equivalent of a UK PhD will be eligible for three-year visas.

English Language Requirements

To qualify, applicants must also demonstrate that they have English language ability of at least level B1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This requirement will be satisfied if the applicant:

  • is a national of a majority English-speaking country;
  • has been awarded a degree taught in English;
  • obtained a GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK; or
  • has passed a Secure English Language Test.

Financial Requirements

There are no sponsorship requirements for the High Potential Individual visa, but applicants applying for entry clearance or who have been in the UK for less than twelve months need to show that they have held funds of at least £1,270 for 28 days.

If an applicant has been resident in the UK for more than 12 months and is applying for leave to remain via the High Potential Individual visa route, they may not need to meet this financial requirement.

Conditions of Stay

A migrant under the High Potential Individual visa route can work (apart from as a professional sportsperson or sports coach) and can study as long as the course does not meet the requirements of the student visa route. They can be accompanied by dependants, such as a partner or children under the age of 18.

The High Potential Individual route does not lead directly to settlement in the UK. Before the expiration of this visa, a migrant who wished to remain in the UK would need to apply to switch to another immigration route, such as the skilled worker route, which does lead to settlement.

Our view

Whilst this is a potentially exciting development for those graduating from the specified Universities and employers looking to employ them, the restrictive nature of the University lists has already come in for some criticism. For example, the most recent list for those graduating between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022 does not contain any Universities from the African continent or India; instead, being heavily weighted towards institutions situated in the USA.

Although these lists are not created by the Home Office, questions are also being asked as to how the eligibility requirements ensures the “brightest and the best” graduates will come to the UK, not least given there are no restrictions on what degree courses are eligible or the standard of degree obtained.

Although there are currently no limits on the numbers of visas which can be awarded under this route, given the history of similar visa routes, this remains a distinct possibility for the future.

If you have any queries regarding this new visa route or need help with making specific visa applications, please contact Arshia Hashmi or any member of our team of expert business immigration solicitors.

Brabners in Lancashire is located at Sceptre Court, Walton Summit. If you would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please give us a ring on 01772 823921, quote “LBV” and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.  

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