As of 30 May 2022, a new immigration route into the UK is now available via the “High Potential Individual” (HPI) visa. This route is aimed at attracting highly skilled foreign graduates who have obtained an eligible university degree within the last 5 years, with the intention to grow the UK as a leading international hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. The list of eligible universities is based on rankings of universities from around the world, and this list differs slightly depending on the year in which the qualification was awarded (and will continue to be released yearly). The relevant lists can be found here. The qualification received must be at the same level as a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK postgraduate degree or a UK PhD or doctorate, and the individual must apply to Ecctis (formerly NARIC) to check that their qualification is valid.
This is an unsponsored work route and so there is no requirement for the applicant to have a job offer to apply. However, when applying for this form of visa the individual must also prove their knowledge of English, and that they have sufficient personal savings to support themselves in the UK (unless they have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months)., There is also an application fee and the applicant must pay the immigration health surcharge. The application can be made from either inside or outside the UK. The HPI visa gives the individual permission to stay in the UK for at least 2 years. If they have a PhD or other doctoral qualification however, it will last for 3 years. The HPI visa cannot be extended and will not lead directly to a right to settlement in the UK, however it may be possible to switch to a different type of visa such as a Skilled Worker visa. It is not possible to apply for an HPI visa if the individual has already been given a Graduate visa or has come to the UK as a Doctorate Extension Scheme student.
The intention behind this visa is that it will be a more simple route for highly skilled individuals to come to the UK and help fill the skills gap that some employers are experiencing, particularly in the science and technology sectors. It will be interesting to see the take up in this form of visa.