Keeping in line with the Government’s focus on attracting the ‘brightest and best’ global talent to the UK, the new High Potential Individual visa route (“HPI”) opened to new applicants on 30 May 2022.
This non-sponsored route is available for international graduates who have qualified from a prestigious university recognised by the Home Office in the last 5 years. The Global Universities list, sets out the top 50 overseas universities from 2017 – 2022. This list is published by the Home Office and updated annually.
To be eligible for this route, an individual must be aged 18 or over and have graduated from an eligible university within the last 5 years. Individuals must have obtained a Bachelors, Masters or PhD or other doctoral qualification from an eligible university.
In addition, individuals must be able to meet the English Language requirement which is set at level B1 or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This requirement can be met through a number of ways.
Individuals must also meet the financial requirement which involves demonstrating they have access to sufficient funds amounting to at least £1,270. Should partners or children be applying with the main applicant, there will be additional savings to demonstrate.
Visa duration and conditions
Individuals that are relying on either a Bachelors or Master’s qualification will be issued with a temporary, non-extendable 2-year visa. Those relying on a PhD or other doctoral level qualification will be granted a non-extendable 3-year visa.
The HPI visa allows individuals full access to the UK labour market – individuals may work for any employer or undertake self-employed work in the UK.
The HPI visa cannot be extended and does not lead to settlement however, should an individual wish to remain in the UK, they may switch to a qualifying visa category providing the rules are met (e.g. Skilled Worker visa/Innovator visa).
Spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners and children under the age of 18 may accompany the main applicant. Unmarried partners would be required to demonstrate at least 2 years of cohabitation akin to marriage.
The cost for main applicants and dependants is £715 each. Individuals must also ensure they pay the relevant fee towards the Immigration Health Surcharge – currently £624 per year for main applicants and dependants. Children under the age of 18 pay £470 per year.
Whilst there may be excitement surrounding the launch of a new non-sponsored immigration route, there are concerns this route is fairly restrictive. Initial observations of the Global Universities list is the dominance of North American universities compared to those from Asia or Africa.
Secondly, as a temporary immigration route, individuals must ensure they switch to an alternative immigration category should they wish to remain in the UK beyond the grant of the HPI visa. Whilst it was hoped there may be an un-sponsored route which leads to settlement, this doesn’t yet appear to be within the Government’s immediate plans.
On the flip-side, some employers may be pleased to see EU or non-EU nationals on a visa category which allows immediate access to the UK labour market and does not require company sponsorship. Employers may initially hire individuals on a HPI visa and should they wish to retain that employee long-term, they may consider sponsoring that individual on a Skilled Worker visa.
Whilst this is another step in the UK Government’s roadmap of encouraging talented individuals to the UK, it remains to be seen whether the introduction of the High Potential Individual visa helps to ease the skills shortage faced by businesses across many sectors in the UK.
If you would like more information about this new immigration route or any other UK immigration matters, please contact Sundeep Rathod who leads the Immigration team at Edwin Coe at sundeep.rathod@Edwincoe.com.
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Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.
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