What are the High Potential Individual Visa Requirements?

What are the High Potential Individual Visa Requirements?

The UK high potential individual visa route was first alluded to on 3rd March 2021 by the UK’s treasury in the “attracting global talent and boosting investment” section of its “Build Back Better: our plan for growth” paper. 

It was then announced in a statement of changes to the immigration rules on 9th July 2019. The objective of this new visa category is to attract and retain talented high potential individuals to contribute to the UK economy.

You are considered a high potential individual if you have the potential to make a significant contribution to your field of work and you can help to grow the UK economy. The new visa route is open to you if you have the required skills and experience, regardless of your nationality.

On 15 March 2022, the Government laid before Parliament a new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 1118 which proposes significant changes to the UK’s current points-based immigration system. The changes laid out the requirements for the high potential individual visa route.

The changes to the UK immigration rules include the introduction of three new points-based immigration categories; Global Business Mobility, High Potential Individual and the Scale-up visa routes. 

High Potential Individual Visa Route Requirements

The High Potential Individual Visa route is available to you if you are a  recent graduate of a top global university and you wish to work or look for work, in the UK. The High Potential Individual route opens on 30 May 2022.

The High Potential Individual route does not lead directly to settlement in the UK. But like the Graduate route, you may be able to apply from within the UK to switch to another immigration route that leads to settlement. Additionally, you can be joined or accompanied by your partner and any dependent children.

In order to qualify for a High Potential Individual Visa, you will need to satisfy a number of points requirements. You may want to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer for advice as the High Potential Individual Visa Requirements may vary depending on your circumstances.

Points are awarded based on your education, English language level and also your financial circumstances. You will need to obtain 70 points in all to qualify for the UK high potential visa.

High Potential Individual Visa Requirements

High Potential Individual Visa Education Requirements and The Global Universities List Degree Requirements

In order to qualify for a High Potential Individual Visa, you will need to have been awarded an overseas degree-level academic qualification.

Your overseas degree level qualification must have been awarded in the 5 years before the date of your High Potential Individual Visa application.

You will need to provide confirmation from Ecctis that your qualification meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a UK bachelors or UK postgraduate degree. ECCTIS will also confirm the date when you were awarded your degree.

The award of the degree must have come from the Home Office’s Global Universities List. This list will be released and updated on a yearly basis.  The list consists of all non-UK institutions that are ranked in the top 50 of at least two of the following ranking systems: 

(a) Times Higher Education World University Rankings; and 

(b) Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings; and 

(c)The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

If you meet this requirement, you will be granted 50 points to count towards your 70 points High Potential Individual Visa requirements.

If you are already an international student that has or is completing an eligible UK degree then you may qualify for the Graduate Immigration Route instead of the high potential visa.

High Potential Individual Visa English Language Requirement

For the English language requirement element of the High Potential Individual visa route, you need to satisfy that you have a B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages. There are a few exceptions to this but most applicants must meet this requirement.

The difficulty will be that you need to get a B1 in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening). If you have ever had to take an entrance exam for a UK university or for certain work related routes, you will know how this may be an obstacle if you are from a non-English speaking country.

Therefore, this requirement favours applicants from Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America.

Bear in mind that along with the Global Universities List, applicants from the following countries are more likely to easily fall within the requirements including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States of America and South Africa.

If you are a recent graduate applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a High Potential Individual and satisfy the English language requirement, you will be granted 10 points towards the 70 point requirement.

High Potential Individual Visa Financial Requirement

Subject to the exemption below, you need to have cash funds of at least £1,270 available.

The money should have been held by you for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of your High Potential Individual Visa application.

The exception is if you are applying for permission to stay and have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or more at the date of application, you will meet the financial requirement and will not need to show funds.

If you meet these financial requirements, you will be awarded 10 points towards the required 70 points to be granted a High Potential Individual visa.

Switching into the High Potential Individual Visa Route

If you are currently in the UK with leave with a visa status of leave to remain in another immigration category, you may extend your stay by switching into the High Potential Individual Visa route.

This does not apply if your last visa or current leave in the UK is as a Visitor, Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the Immigration Rules.

High Potential Individual Visa Requirements

How Long Can I Stay In the UK Under the High Potential Individual Visa

Once your High Potential Visa is approved, the duration of your visa will depend on the qualification you relied on to meet the Global Universities List overseas degree requirement. If you used a PhD, you will be given 3 years. If you used any other degree, you will be granted a period of 2 years.

Type of Degree QualificationPeriod granted from the date of decision
PhD or other doctoral level qualification3 years
All other degree qualifications2 years

Conditions of Stay as a High Potential Individual

If your application for a High Potential Individual Visa is approved you will be permitted to work (including self-employment and voluntary work), apart from as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. 

You will also be able to study other than on a course which would meet the High Potential Individual Visa Requirements of the Student route. If you do decide to study, you will be subject to the ATAS conditions in Appendix ATAS if your course is subject to the Academic Technology Approval Scheme.

Additionally, if you are a national or citizen of Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yemen, a stateless person; or a person holding a non-national travel document, you will also be required to register with the police.

You will also not be permitted to access public funds.

Extension of Stay on the High Potential Individual Visa Route

It is not possible to apply for an extension of a High Potential Individual Visa. However, before your leave expires, you may be able to apply from within the UK to switch to another immigration route. You will need to satisfy the requirements of the immigration route that you wish to extend into.

Settlement on the High Potential Individual Visa Route

The High Potential Individual Visa does not lead directly to settlement in the UK. However, before your leave expires, you may be able to apply from within the UK to switch to another immigration route which does lead to settlement. You will need to satisfy the requirements of the immigration route that you wish to extend into.

You may also be eligible to extend your stay until you qualify for settlement on the basis of Long Residence.

Dependants of High Potential Individual Visa Applicants

High Potential Individual Visa holders can be joined or accompanied by a dependent partner over the age of 18 and dependent children under the age of 18.

What are the Documents required for the High Potential Individual Visa Route?

As the route opens, the list of documents required for the High Potential Individual visa route will become available. But based on the current information, the list of documents required will be:

  • A completed application form with the fee paid 
  • Immigration Health Charge payment (of currently £624 per year payable in advance);
  • biometric fingerprints and photos taken
  • Your current (and possibly previous) passport or other travel documents
  • Degree Certificates and/or transcripts
  • ECCTIS confirmation statement of equivalency
  • English Language Certificate confirming B1
  • Bank statements covering the last 3 months
  • TB Certificate (If required)
  • Travel Dates Spreadsheet

For your dependents, you will need to also provide:

  • Proof of relationship (Birth[s] & marriage certificates)
  • Passports

This list is not exhaustive and your advisor at IaM will be able to provide you with a full list of documents based on your individual circumstances.

Which High Potential Individual Visa Universities are on the current list of the Global Universities List?  

The current list of universities that has just been published is for qualifications awarded between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022. There are lists for the past six years that can be found on the government site.

Alphabetical Rankings Lists 2021 (establishments from Top 50 rankings which appeared on 2 or more lists)Country
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)USA
Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)Hong Kong
Columbia UniversityUSA
Cornell UniversityUSA
Duke UniversityUSA
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL Switzerland)Switzerland
ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)Switzerland
Harvard UniversityUSA
Johns Hopkins UniversityUSA
Karolinska InstituteSweden
Kyoto UniversityJapan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)USA
McGill UniversityCanada
Nanyang Technological University (NTU)Singapore
National University of SingaporeSingapore
New York University (NYU)USA
Northwestern UniversityUSA
Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research UniversityFrance
Peking UniversityChina
Princeton UniversityUSA
Stanford UniversityUSA
Tsinghua UniversityChina
University of British ColumbiaCanada
University of California, BerkeleyUSA
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)USA
University of California, San DiegoUSA
University of Chicago USUSA
University of Hong KongHong Kong
University of MelbourneAustralia
University of Michigan-Ann ArborUSA
University of Munich (LMU Munich)Germany
University of PennsylvaniaUSA
The University of Texas at AustinUSA
University of TokyoJapan
University of TorontoCanada
University of WashingtonUSA
Yale UniversityUSA

Obviously, this list falls in line with our expected list of countries that we discussed in our announcement of the High potential visa being launched.

Existing visa routes for ‘high potential individuals’

The Global Talent Visa and Skilled Worker Visa routes are potentially two other visa routes currently in place for highly talented individuals to come and work in the UK. If you are entrepreneurial, you may also be suitable for startup or innovator visas.

The Global Talent visa is for global leaders or emerging global leaders in academia or research, arts and culture or digital technology. Those not qualified to come through a Global Talent visa can look for the Skilled worker route (work permit) which requires sponsorship. 

For those of you working in a multinational, you may want to check out the new Global Business Mobility routes.

What are your thoughts on the UK’s new High Potential Individual Visa route? Comment below.

IaM can help with your High Potential Individual Visa Requirements, Work Permits, Visa Sponsor Licence and Other Work Visa Options

If you need help with a Tier 2 visa, or a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, including help with complying with your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on Tier 2 Sponsor Licences, UK immigration law and UK visa applications Or If you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator or Immigration advisor at IaM

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