The UK government has now commenced its latest new visa route, the High Potential Individual (“HPI”) visa. This visa type is open to individuals who have graduated from one of the world’s top-ranked, non-UK, universities; individuals from UK universities may instead be eligible under the Graduate visa.
To qualify for this visa type, the individual must have graduated (i.e. been awarded a degree level qualification) within the previous 5 years from a university appearing on the Home Office’s “Global Universities List”. That list will be published annually, but will be formed of non-UK universities that were included in the top 50 of at least two out of the following ranking systems:
- Times Higher Education World University Rankings;
- Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings;
- Academic Ranking of World Universities.
Some of the qualifying universities include:
Peking University China
Tsinghua University China
Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University France
University of Munich (LMU Munich) Germany
University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
Kyoto University Japan
University of Tokyo Japan
National University of Singapore Singapore
Harvard University USA
Yale University USA
HPI visa holders will be permitted to work, including self-employment, in any role (other than as a professional sportsperson) and will not need sponsorship - i.e. they will not need an employer with a Sponsor Licence. They may also study in the UK, if they wish.
It is possible to switch from a different visa type to the HPI visa - for example if an individual is currently on a Skilled Worker visa but wants to take employment with a new organisation that does not hold a Sponsor Licence. Do note, however, that this route cannot be combined with the other recent new visa type, the Graduate visa. If an individual has held a Graduate visa previously then they will not be granted an HPI visa (even if the previous visa has expired).
To apply for this visa it will be necessary to obtain a confirmation from Ecctis (a Home Office approved organisation) in relation to the degree that has been awarded, showing that it is equivalent to a UK degree. There is a fee of between £210 and £252 for this service - or higher if requiring a faster processing time. In addition, the current visa application fee is £715 per person and the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (normally £624 per year) is also payable. For bachelor’s or master’s degrees a two-year visa will be granted, or for PhDs, a three year visa is granted. The HPI visa does not itself lead to settlement (permanent residence) and cannot be extended - instead, if wishing to remain in the UK it would be necessary to switch to an alternative visa category. The Home Office envisages that, most commonly, that would mean switching into the Skilled Worker category with a view to then applying for settlement when eligible under that route.
For more information on the HPI category or any other visas please contact a member of our team.