The UK’s new High Potential Individual visa route

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What is it?

The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa will allow an individual to stay in the UK for a minimum of two years. To be eligible for the HPI visa, individuals must have been awarded a qualification by an eligible university in the last five years. It is important to note that applicants need not have a job lined up in the UK, the HPI visa is for those who wish to work or look for work.

While there are similarities between the HPI visa and Graduate visa, the new HPI visa is the first of its kind that is available to graduates of universities outside of the UK.

How are individuals eligible for a HPI visa?

Those who have been awarded a bachelor’s, master’s or post-doctorate degree from a qualified university in the last five years will need to meet an additional two eligibility requirements.

  • First, there is an English language requirement which means that the applicant must have either been awarded a degree which proves the individual can speak English, passed a test or come from a country where English is the majority spoken language.
  • Second, there is a financial requirement which means the applicant will need to prove that they have at least £1,270 available in their account at the time of their application.

Depending where the applicant comes from, they might also need to pass a tuberculosis test.

Which universities meet the requirement?

Individuals wishing to apply for a HPI visa will need to have attended one of the universities on the Home Office’s Global University List. It has been confirmed that this list will be released on an annual basis and will include higher education institutions outside the UK that appear in the top 50 on a minimum of two of the following:

  • The Academic Ranking of World Universities
  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings
  • The Academic Ranking of World Universities

Some have criticized this approach however as the list excludes universities in certain countries such as Africa and Italy. However it remains to be seen whether the list will be widened next year.

How long can a HPI visa holder stay in the UK for?

Applicants that have achieved a PhD from a qualifying university will be eligible to stay in the UK for three years. If an applicant has a bachelor’s or master’s degree, they can stay for two years.

What can a HPI visa holder do?

They can work (including self-employment and voluntary work) in any role without the need to be sponsored. They cannot work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach though. They can study as well but only if the course would not be eligible for a student visa. Visa holders will not be permitted to access public funds.

The route does not lead to settlement but the visa holder may be able to switch to a route that does allow them to stay in the UK for 5 years, and then apply to settle here.

Visa holders can however bring their dependents with them on this route.

What if a HPI visa holder wants to stay in the UK for longer?

Individuals that hold a HPI visa will not be allowed to extend their visa. However, they may be permitted to apply for another type of visa to stay in the UK, such as a Skilled Worker visa provided they meet the eligibility requirements.

If you have any question on this new route, or any other business immigration issue, please get in touch at a.christen@capitallaw.co.uk.