High Potential Individual Visa Route | What Employers Must Know

The UK has announced that they will offer work visas to the “brightest and best” graduates from the world’s best universities. This is called the High Potential Individual (HPI) visa route, which was released on 30/05/2022. UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “The route means that the UK will grow as a leading international hub for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.”

The HPI visa route allows individuals to work, live, and potentially study in the UK. It is suitable for individuals from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein who started living in the UK by December 31, 2020, and meet specific eligibility criteria.

To qualify for HPI, a graduate must meet the following criteria:

  • Must have attended a university which appears in the top 50 of at least two of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, or The Academic Ranking of World Universities, in the year in which they graduated. The list of universities recognised by the UK government for the HPI visa route can be viewed here
  • Must have graduated in the last five years from a qualifying university
  • Cover a cost of £715, plus an immigration health surcharge
  • Pass a security and criminality check
  • Have proficient English skills to at least B1 (intermediate level)

Can I apply for HPI if I am from the EU?

If you or a family member are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein and began residing in the UK prior to 31 December 2020, you may be eligible to apply for the free EU Settlement Scheme. The majority of people had until 30 June 2021 to submit their applications, but there are exceptions.

You can still apply if you have a later deadline, such as joining a family member in the UK who was already living there by 31 December 2020, or if you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by the initial deadline, such as illness or domestic abuse. Irish citizens are exempt from needing a visa or applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Check your eligibility for the EU Settlement Scheme.

How long can I stay with High Potential Individual Visa Route?

The duration of an HPI visa typically spans 2 years. Additionally, if you hold a PhD or other doctoral qualification, it extends to 3 years. Similarly, it’s important to note that the duration of the HPI visa is subject to specific qualifications and criteria.

In case you wish to extend your stay in the UK, it is not possible to extend your HPI visa directly. However, there is the option to switch to a different visa category, such as a Skilled Worker visa.

Check your eligibility for applying for an alternative visa type to prolong your stay in the UK.

How long does the HPI process take?

As part of the application process, you will be required to verify your identity and submit the necessary documents.

If you need an appointment for this step, it is advisable to allocate additional time. The requirement for an appointment will be communicated to you upon commencing your application.

Receiving a decision

After submitting your online application for HPI, completing the identity verification, and submitting the required documents, you can typically expect a decision on your visa within:

3 weeks if you are outside the UK.
8 weeks if you are already in the UK.

The cost involved

For each applicant, including yourself, your partner, or children, the following expenses will need to be covered:

  1. Payment of the application fee.
  2. Payment of the healthcare surcharge for each year of your stay.
  3. Providing evidence of sufficient personal savings.

Check the specific amount of funds you will need

High Potential Individual Visa: Can and Cannot

With a HPI visa you can:

  • be employed in most jobs/sectors
  • search for employment
  • self-employed
  • reside in the UK, with your partner and children (if you are eligible)
  • Voluntary (unpaid) work
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK

With an HPI visa you cannot:

  • sign up for most benefits like public funds or the state pension
  • employed as a sportsperson (professionally)
  • extend the visa
  • apply to permanently settle in the UK

If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can/cannot do with an HPI visa.

Pursuing Education under an HPI Visa

In summary, under an HPI visa, you can pursue studies only if the course you wish to undertake is not eligible for a Student visa. However, if your chosen course qualifies for a Student visa, you have the option to either apply for a Student visa or extend an existing one if applicable.

For individuals studying or researching sensitive subjects, obtaining an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate may be necessary.

Employers in the UK must note the following about the scheme:

  • A High Potential Individual visa gives permission to stay in the UK for 2 years (3 years for those with a PhD)
  • Graduates are eligible to apply regardless of where they were born. Moreover, they can bring their families along, but must demonstrate possession of maintenance funds totaling at least £1,270.
  • At this time, the route doesn’t require sponsorship. Moreover, the graduate will not need a job offer to apply. This provides greater flexibility and opportunities for graduates seeking to utilise the HPI visa route. Additionally, this streamlined process enables graduates to focus on their application without the added burden of securing sponsorship or a job offer.
  • Graduates are eligible to apply regardless of where they were born

Regrettably, the list does not include universities from Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. Consequently has sparked controversy among academics and industry professionals alike.

In conclusion the High Potential Individual Visa Route, is explained in full detail on the official UK Government Website.

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