< back
high potential individual visa

by Vanessa Ganguin

New list of universities whose graduates qualify for a High Potential Individual visa – who is eligible?

1 November 2022

The Home Office has published the latest list of eligible top global universities that may qualify graduates for a High Potential Individual visa.

UK’s High Potential Individual Visa is a fantastic immigration route for those that qualify. It’s a particularly useful immigration route for employers and those who have graduated from a list of around 40 top universities in the past five years to come and work in the UK without having to be sponsored.

Those granted a High Potential Individual (HPI) visa will be able to bring family to the UK and look for work, work for an employer, work for themselves or set up a business.

This means that applicants applying on this route will not be restricted to taking up employment with a UK business that holds a sponsor licence and any employment they undertake will not be subject to belonging to a standard occupation classification (SOC) code or minimum salary restrictions.

The lists of eligible international universities are published every year by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI). The latest list is yet again dominated by a majority of universities from North America. Out of 40 on the list for those graduating between 1 November 2022 and 31 October 2023, 21 are US education institutions and three are from Canada.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is back on the list again for this year, joining graduates of these other US universities who are invited to apply for the High Potential Individual visa: California Institute of Technology (Caltech); Columbia University; Cornell University; Duke University; Harvard University; Johns Hopkins University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); New York University (NYU); Northwestern University; Princeton University; Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); University of California, San Diego; University of Chicago; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of Pennsylvania; University of Texas at Austin; University of Washington and Yale University.

Those who graduate from Canada’s McGill University; University of British Columbia and University of Toronto are eligible too as in previous years.

Again no universities from South America qualify for the HPI visa. Indeed, the Global South is represented by Asia – Hong Kong ’s The University of Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Japan’s Kyoto University and The University of Tokyo; Singapore ’s Nanyang Technological University Singapore and National University of Singapore; China’s Peking University, Tsinghua University and Zhejiang University. And if we are counting Australia here, graduates of Australia’s University of Melbourne and The University of Queensland will be able to qualify for the UK’s High Potential Individual visa again.

Precious few universities from Europe qualify in the new list for High Potential Individual visas: Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL Switzerland) and ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology);  France’s Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University; Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and Germany’s Technical University of Munich are the only ones.

Potential applicants can check the lists below for the year they graduated to see if their higher education institution would qualify them to apply for a High Potential Individual visa.

NB: you must have been awarded your qualification in the last five years – ie: the date of actual award – this will normally appear on the diploma/certificate itself must be within five years of your application.

Check the list of High Potential Individual visa eligible universities for the month and year you were awarded your qualification:

The above lists consist of eligible non-UK institutions that are included in the list of the top 50 universities in at least two of the following ranking systems:

1.     Times Higher Education World University Rankings

2.     Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings

3.     The Academic Ranking of World Universities

What are the main eligibility requirements for a High Potential Individual visa?

Applicants can only be granted permission to enter the UK once under this route, the Graduate route or the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme.

Global Universities List degree requirement

Applicants must have been awarded an overseas degree-level academic qualification from the list above for the year they were awarded, which is at the equivalent level of a recognised UK bachelor’s or UK postgraduate degree.

HPI English language requirement

Applicants must be able to show their English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), in all four components (reading, writing, speaking and listening), of at least level B1.

There may however be other ways in which an applicant can demonstrate their English language ability such as if they have been awarded a degree that was taught in English, are a national of a majority English-speaking country or they have obtained a GCSE or A Level in English whilst in school in the UK (that began when they were aged under 18).

Applicants will also be able to meet this requirement if they have already met the English requirement at this level in a previous UK visa application. This may be relevant to applicants who are switching to this visa from within the UK.

HPI Financial requirement

An applicant who is applying for entry clearance on this route will need to show that they can support themselves in the UK without relying on public funds. They must be able to show cash funds of at least £1,270 at the submission date of the application and these funds must have been held for a 28-day period prior to the date of the application.  Additional funds are required for dependants.

Applicants may be exempt from this requirement if they have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the date of the application.

Can you switch to a High Potential Individual Visa if you are in the UK already?

Applicants and dependants already in the UK can switch to this immigration route without leaving the UK, unless they are in the UK as visitors, short-term students, parents of a child at school, domestic workers, or have been granted leave outside the Immigration Rules.

How long will High Potential Individuals be granted leave for?

The amount of time that will be granted to applicants will depend on the level of the academic qualification they hold.

If they hold and are relying on a qualification equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s or Master’s level degree then they will be granted a period of two years.

If they hold and are relying on a qualification equivalent to a UK PhD or other doctoral level qualification, then they will be granted a period of three years.

Which UK immigration routes can High Potential Individuals switch into?

It should be noted that this route does not lead to settlement in the UK. Successful applicants may however be able to switch to another route that may lead to settlement in the UK. At any point before it expires, people on the High Potential Individual visa may switch into permitted work categories leading to settlement, such as Skilled Worker, Start up, Scale up, Innovator or Global Talent visas.

Can a High Potential Individual’s family join them in the UK?

A husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner may accompany a High Potential Individual, as can children under 18 on the date of application. Partners must be in a genuine and subsisting relationship of two years or over.

Like most immigration categories, dependants can also apply to switch into another UK immigration category if they qualify for it.

What is the difference between a Graduate visa and a High Potential Individual visa?

The High Potential Individual visa is for qualifications attained outside the UK, while the Graduate visa immigration route is meant for those who graduated in the UK, and can only be applied for in the UK.

Applicants for the Graduate visa must have a Student visa as their current or most recent visa for the UK, and they must have successfully completed their course of study during their last grant of permission as a Student.

High Potential Individuals, on the other hand, have five years after graduation to make use of the route.

Also High Potential Individuals have less requirements to meet to bring dependants to the UK, while  Graduates are only allowed to have dependants joining them if they were already dependants while on a Student visa.

For more detailed advice and updates on this and other new immigration routes, or for a strategic consultation on what would work best for you, please contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.

Vanessa Ganguin is a leading light in immigration, with decades of experience of delivering great results and great value with a friendly, personal touch.

Send us an enquiry. We will get back to you shortly.