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What you need to know about the new High Potential Individual visa route

Written by
Helena Sheizon, Kadmos Consultants
Date of Publication:
31 March 2022

The High Potential Individual (HPI) route is similar to the Graduate route but offered to recent graduates of the top ranking universities outside the UK. This route opens on 30 May 2022.

High Potential Individuals will be given permission to stay for two or three years depending on their degree level and will be allowed to take up employment without sponsorship, set up a business or work as self employed. The route will not lead to settlement.

This visa can only be granted once and will not be available to those who have already had Graduate visa. Dependants (partner and children under 18) are allowed.

Qualifying Universities – Global Universities Lists

The list will be published by the Home Office on the Gov.uk website. It will be compiled once a year. The list will include overseas universities that are ranked in the top 50 of at least two of the following three ranking systems: (1) Times Higher Education World University Rankings, (2) Quacquarelli Symonds, (3) The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The University has to be on the list for the year of graduation. It is expected that the list will go back five years and a new list will be added for each year after introduction of this route.

Degree requirement and period of grant

The degree has to be awarded within five years of the application. The degree can be in any discipline but has to be equivalent to not less than UK bachelor's degree.

Graduates with a bachelor's or a master's degree will be given a two-year visa. Graduates with a PhD or another doctoral level qualification will be given three years.

English Language Requirement

Unless the degree was taught in English, the applicant will need to pass an accepted English language test offered by an approved language test provider to at least B1 level in four components – reading, writing, speaking and listening.

If you are relying on a degree taught in English, you will need a certificate from the awarding body or a transcript issued by the university, or an official letter from the university. If the degree was awarded outside the UK, you will need confirmation from Ecctis that the qualification meets the required standard of a UK bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree.

Financial Requirement

Applicants who have lived in the UK for at least 12 months in another immigration category do not have to meet the financial requirement. Those who are applying for entry clearance from overseas have to demonstrate that they have at least £1270 (or equivalent in another currency calculated using Oanda website applying the exchange rate on the date of application). This amount has to have been held in a bank account for at least 28 days prior to the date of the application.

Dependants of a High Potential Individual

A High Potential Individual can bring their partner and children under the age of 18 to the UK.

Partner means the spouse or civil partner, or unmarried partner in a durable relationship. Unmarried partners have do demonstrate that they have lived together for at least two years and that their relationship is genuine and subsisting.

Children include children of the main applicant's partner if they have sole responsibility for the child or if the other parent of the child is settled in the UK, or where there are serious and compelling reasons to grant the child leave to enter or remain.

The child has to be under the age of 18 on the date of application. Their leave to remain will have the same expiry date as that of the main applicant.

Financial requirements for dependants of a High Potential Individual

If the dependants are switching to this category inside the UK and have lived in the UK for at least 12 months prior to the application, the financial requirement is considered as met.If applying for leave to enter from outside the UK, or with less than 12 months residence in the UK, the following funds are required:

1. At least £285 for the partner
2. £315 for the first child
3. £200 for each additional child.

The funds have to have been held in a bank account for at least 28 days before the date of the application.

Switching to this route inside the UK

Both the main applicant and dependents can switch into this route from another immigration category without leaving the UK, with the exception of visitors, short-term students, those who have been granted leave to remain outside the immigration rules, parents of a child at school and domestic worker visa holders.

Work options for HPIs and their dependants

This route is not related to sponsorship and there is no requirement to have a job offer in the UK. The main visa holder and their dependent partner can work in the UK without restrictions, and can set up their own business or register as self-employed.

Immigration options on completion of leave as a High Potential Individual

This route is envisaged as an opportunity for High Potential Individuals and their family members to establish stronger connections with the UK. The route allows switching into any work permitted category leading to settlement, such as skilled worker, start up and innovator, exceptional talent, or scale up route. You are allowed to switch, i.e. apply for a variation of the visa, at any time before its expiry date. However, you cannot return to the High Potential Individual Route if you have spent less than the full length of the permitted period under this route.

How HPI compares to the Graduate route

There are certain perks in the High Potential Individual route. First, is that it is available during the five years after graduation. The application can be made from either the UK or from overseas. Secondly, the dependants can be included in the application without any special conditions, and can also be added to join the main applicant if the main applicant is already in the UK as a High Potential Individual.