The High Potential Individual visa route is now open. It's a new visa route, which opened on 30 May 2022 and is designed to attract the most highly skilled individuals to come to the UK. 

Individuals don't need a job offer or a sponsor to apply. Instead, they will be eligible if they have graduated from a non-UK university on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) global universities list for the relevant period and meet the English language and financial/maintenance requirements. This visa provides temporary permission to work for a period of 2 years (or 3 years for those with a PHD). 

What university degrees are eligible?

UKVI have published the global universities list for qualifications awarded between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022 (the 2021 list), along with the lists for previous relevant academic years - these can be accessed here. Qualifications must have been awarded in the 5 year period preceding the date of the visa application to be eligible.

To qualify to be on the global universities list,  the non-UK university must appear on at least two of the following university rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings; Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings; The Academic Ranking of World Universities. 

The exact number of recognised universities will vary from year to year, but there are 37 universities on the 2021 list. There is a heavy focus on North American universities, with 23 of the 37 being US or Canadian universities. The remainder are from European countries, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and China. 

What does this mean for recruitment processes?

You should be aware that job applicants who have been awarded a qualification from an eligible university in the previous 5 year period are likely to be eligible for a High Potential Individual visa. Such applicants will likely qualify for a visa without having to rely on your sponsorship. They could undertake any job, regardless of skill level or salary, as there are no minimum salary requirements.

Therefore, you may wish to review the questions that you ask job applicants about their eligibility to work in the UK to ensure that you aren't unnecessarily excluding them from jobs that they could do without needing sponsorship.

If individuals don't realise that they are eligible for this type of visa, you might want to signpost them to UKVI webpages for further information on the visa route. Although, you should not provide immigration advice to job applicants (as immigration advice is regulated), you can signpost them to information. 

How much does the visa cost?

The visa application fee is £715. The applicant must also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. However, as the employer you won't need to pay any visa costs and there is no Immigration Skills Charge payable for this visa.

How can individuals apply?

Individuals must apply online. There are different application processes depending on whether the individual is making their application from outside the UK, or switching from a different visa route from within the UK.

Individuals can include their partner and children in their application to join them or stay in the UK if they are eligible.

For more information on how to apply see UK Government guidance.

More information 

If you would like to discuss any questions you have on any of the information contained in this blog, please contact Elaine McIlroy or Erin McLafferty.