< back

Graduates of top US universities have lucked out with the UK’s new High Potential Individual visas

London visa to UK


29 June 2022

The United Kingdom has launched the High Potential Individual visa – its new easy unsponsored immigration route for graduates of the world’s top universities.

The selection of qualifying top universities has caused some controversy as there are only five European universities on the 2021 list, none at all from Africa, South Asia or Latin America.

The good news for graduates of elite US education institutions however is that over half of the qualifying universities for this new UK immigration route are North American.

The High Potential Individual visa is a great opportunity for graduates who qualify to come to the UK with their family to work, look for employment, work freelance or set up a business.

Launching the route which opened on 30 May 2022, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted: “we want the businesses of tomorrow to be built here today – which is why I call on students to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to forge their careers here.”

Which graduates qualify for a High Potential Individual visa?

Applicants for this new visa should have graduated within five years before applying from a university on the UK government’s High Potential Individual visa: global universities list for the year their degree was awarded.

The UK Government has published these global universities lists based on higher education institutions that featured for that year in at least two of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The good news for North American graduates is that over half the qualifying universities on the lists are in the USA, with Canada well represented too.

So for example in 2021 none of the 37 universities that appeared in two of the above independent guides were from Latin America, Africa or South Asia, while Canadian graduates meeting the eligibility requirements from McGill University, University of British Columbia or University of Toronto can all apply for a High Potential Individual visa.

Last year there were as many colleges in California (Caltech; Stanford; University of California, Berkeley; UCLA; University of California, San Diego) that qualified as in the whole continent of Asia (NTU, Singapore; National University of Singapore; CUHK, Hong Kong; University of Hong Kong; University of Tokyo, Japan; Kyoto University, Japan; Peking University, China; Tsinghua University, China).

The other 15 US universities from where graduates can apply are: Columbia University; Cornell University; NYU; Harvard University; MIT; Duke University; Johns Hopkins University; Northwestern University; Princeton University; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; University of Chicago; University of Washington; Yale University; University of Pennsylvania; University of Texas at Austin.

The 2021 list has only five higher academic institutions in Europe: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Switzerland; Karolinska Institute, Sweden; Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University, France; LMU Munich, Germany.

The Southern hemisphere of the globe is only represented by the University of Melbourne, Australia.