High Potential Individual (HPI) visa is similar to the Graduate visa but offered to recent graduates of the top ranking universities outside the UK. This route opened on 30 May 2022.
High Potential Individual visa is granted for two or three years depending on your degree level. You are allowed to take up employment without sponsorship, set up a business or work as self employed. The route will not lead to settlement but you can switch into another route which will, for example, as a sponsored skilled worker.
This visa can only be granted once and is not be available to those who have already had a Graduate visa in the UK. Dependants (partner and children under 18) are allowed.
The HPI visa fee is £715. The same fee applies for dependants of the main visa holder.
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Degree requirement & period of grant
Financial requirements for dependants of HPI
Qualifying Universities - Global Universities Lists
The list of qualifying universities is published on the government website. It is complied for each year starting with 2016, although the first qualifying year is 2017 - the application for the HPI visa has to be made within 5 years of graduation and the University has to be listed for the year of graduation, not the year when you are applying for the visa.
The list includes 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.
Degree requirement and period of grant
The degree has to have been 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. This has to be confirmed by Ecctis. Ecctis will also verify and confirm the date of award in the Academic Level of Qualification Statement.
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.
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:
- At least £285 for the partner
- £315 for the first child
- £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 dependants 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.
The first one is that it is available during the five years after graduation.
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. Graduate visa does not allow dependants to join the main applicant unless they were in the UK with the main applicant before the application.
The third advantage is that the application can be made from the UK or from abroad, whereas Graduate visa is only available for applicants within the UK.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.