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31 May 2022

High Potential Individual visa route - what you need to know

3 mins

The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa opened on Monday 30 May 2022, and is the government’s latest visa scheme designed to attract the ‘brightest and best’ into the UK jobs market. This new, short-term visa route gives permission to work in the UK without requiring sponsorship by an employer, and is aimed at those in the early stages of their careers.

It will therefore be attractive to entrepreneurial candidates and people who are interested in short periods of employment in the UK as well as self-employment, stand-alone work projects and consultancy work. The HPI route offers some flexibility to both individuals and employers alike – for individuals the main benefit is that their visa status will not be tied to any one employer and for employers there are no sponsorship costs to incur when employing someone who holds an HPI visa.

Whether an applicant will qualify for this visa will depend on whether they have a degree from a ‘prestigious’ university and whether that university’s course was considered particularly prestigious during the year the applicant graduated, which must be within the last five years.  There are published tables of qualifying universities for the different academic years, reflecting fluctuation in university rankings over time.

Applicants can apply from outside the UK and in some circumstances will be able to switch in country. They will need to pay the relevant fee and health surcharge, and meet the following requirements:

  • English language ability to level B1 unless they are from a majority English-speaking country, or their degree meets the requirements to be considered sufficient proof of English ability.
  • Ability to maintain themselves financially if the visa is granted by demonstrating savings of at least £1,270. 
  • Awarded an overseas degree level academic qualification which Ecctis confirms meets, or exceeds, the recognised standard of a UK bachelor’s or UK postgraduate degree, with the institution that awarded the degree being listed in the Global Universities List at the time that the applicant was awarded the degree.

The usual refusal grounds apply, and applicants can apply for a partner and minor children to be issued leave in line.

Successful applicants will be granted two years leave to remain or entry clearance, but if the degree they are relying on is at doctoral level, they will be granted three years leave to remain or entry clearance. There are some restrictions on the type of work that can be undertaken (for example no work as a professional sportsperson) and there is no recourse to public funds. The grants are non-renewable and do not lead to settlement, so if these individuals plan to remain in the UK, they will need to switch route. 

The information above is correct at the time of publishing (31 May 2022). We are not responsible for any changes that the UKVI/Home Office may make without notice and this blog should not be considered as legal advice.

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