Everything You Need to Know About High Potential Individual Visa

The UK Home Office has been exceptionally busy reforming its visa programme, especially in the aftermath of Brexit going into force. Among the new visa routes available, there’s the High Potential Individual visa (HPI visa), under which international graduates from the most renowned universities worldwide are allowed to live and work in the UK without needing a prior job offer or an endorsement.

This is part of an effort on the part of the UK Government to elicit the arrival of top global talents that can make use of their qualified knowledge to the country’s benefit and for the purposes of increasing the competitiveness of UK businesses in worldwide markets.

What is the UK High Potential Individual Visa?

The UK High Potential Individual visa is a visa programme launched on 30 May 2022, consisting of a permit granted to migrants who have proven to excel in academic performance and are willing to contribute to the UK economy by sharing their expertise.

This visa route is not only opened for the benefit of eligible migrants, but also of UK companies needing the aid of foreign talent in order to become trendsetters in a given field or industry, whether it be healthcare, digital technology, or engineering, among others.

What Eligibility Requirements Must Be Met In Order to Obtain a UK High Potential Visa?

Eligible University

The HPI UK visa is available for applicants who have a earned a degree from an “eligible” university. To determine whether the university is eligible, it must appear in the Home Office Global Universities List, which is a compilation taken from two or more “Top 50 universities” rankings that are published yearly.

UK universities are discarded for the purposes of this visa. Graduates from UK universities may apply for a Graduate visa instead.

Eligible Qualification

The qualification obtained from the university must be equivalent to either a UK bachelor’s, postgraduate, or PhD (or doctorate) degree. Candidates must apply to Ecctis in order to check whether their qualifications match the corresponding UK level, albeit Ecctis will not make pronouncements on the university’s eligibility.

Knowledge of the English Language

Applicants would also have to show proof of their ability to read, write, and speak English at an acceptable level within the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) scale. This level should be at least B1. To satisfy this requirement, the candidates may prove that they’re a national from an English-speaking country or that they have obtained a degree taught in English.

Alternatively, they can show evidence that they were awarded an English GCSE or that they passed a Secure English Language Test (SELT).

No Sponsorship or Job Offer Needed

To facilitate the entrance of highly-qualified graduates to the UK in the hopes that they may bring about benefits to the country, no sponsorship or job offer is required, giving candidates ample freedom to accept different job bids or to switch between various employers.

Means of Financial Support

When they apply for a High Potential Individual visa, candidates ought to have enough money to pay for their application. As of this writing, these are the expenses associated with the process:

  • Ecctis qualification check: £210 (£252 if applying from the UK)
  • Visa application fee: £715
  • Healthcare surcharge: £624 (yearly fee)

With regards to the healthcare surcharge, they can get a refund if they work in public sector healthcare.

Aside from the costs outlined above, they’ll need to provide evidence that they’re able to support themself during their stay. This requirement is met if they have at least £1,270 in their bank account balance available for at least 28 days within the 31 days prior to applying for the visa.

This requirement is also extended to their partner and children, though the amounts vary. For example, if they bring their partner, they or their partner must have an additional £285 available. Likewise, for one child, they must have an additional £310, and £200 for each subsequent child.

How to Apply for the UK High Potential Visa

The application for this visa must be filled out online. In addition to this, applicants must attend an appointment wherein they have to provide biometric data, other supporting documentation, and a photograph of their face.

Additionally, depending on the country they’re applying from, petitioners must submit their tuberculosis test results from a clinic approved by the Home Office.

Moreover, if the documents are not in English or Welsh, certified translations must be provided.

For How Long Can a Person Remain in the UK Under a High Potential Individual Visa?

Under a High Potential Individual visa, visa holders may stay in the UK for a maximum of 2 years if they have a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree. For people with a PhD or a doctoral qualification, the allowance extends to 3 years.

The HPI visa is not extendable. Nevertheless, holders may still opt to switch to other visa options, such as the Skilled Worker visa, in the event that they’re eligible. HPI visas do not entitle holders to apply for permanent settlement in the UK (indefinite leave to remain), so they’ll need to examine other immigration routes to that effect.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Decision?

The process normally takes from 3 weeks (if applying from outside the UK) to 8 weeks (from inside the UK), though it could take longer depending on the accompanying documents that candidates are asked to provide and on whether they need to attend another appointment to hand them over.

The waiting time ends when the decision is mailed to the applicant’s email address.

What Can HPI Visa Holders Do?

High Potential Individual visa holders are permitted to make a living in the UK in the way they deem most fitting. They may work in most jobs (except in professional sports), work as freelancers, live with their partner and children (provided they’re eligible), perform voluntary work, and travel abroad.

On the flip side, they won’t be capable of applying for a State Pension or settling permanently in the country.