Working in the UK with a High Potential Individual Visa

Almost three million visas were granted by the Home Office in 2022, a figure that represents an 11% slide on the numbers for 2019. Of these, 37% qualified as either study or work visas, meaning that the large majority of 2022’s visas were given to holidaymakers, refugees, and for “other” types of immigration routes. Of course, things aren’t quite that simple. As far as visas are concerned, there are categories within categories, including several new ones.

The High Potential Individual Visa

One of these fresh routes to the UK is the High Potential Individual (HPI) visa. Designed to attract foreign nationals with valuable skills to the UK, an HPI visa is a cornerstone of the country’s new immigration system, which now considers applicants on a quantitive or points-based scheme. The HPI visa was created to increase the attractiveness of the UK in the wake of its separation from the European Union.

A High Potential Individual visa is similar to a skilled worker visa, another new route to the UK that was introduced in 2020. The Reiss Edwards website indicates that a Skilled Worker visa allows stays from people with a minimum work-based qualification equivalent to A-Level. It permits residence of up to five years. In contrast, HPI visa allows people who have recently gained an academic qualification (like a degree, master’s, or doctorate) to either look for a job or start employment in the country.

As far as eligibility is concerned, individuals on an HPI visa need to have graduated within five years before applying and have a degree from a qualifying university. For 2022, the number of institutions on the latter list was forty. UK universities are not eligible on the HPI visa scheme but high-ranking American colleges like Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins University are included, alongside a handful of others around the world.

Financial Stipulations

Inevitably, there are a few more must-haves before a person can be granted a High Potential Individual visa. These include financial stipulations. For instance, hopefuls must have had a minimum of £1,270 in their bank account for the 28 days prior to their form submission date. Also, a £715 application fee, £210 to validate a qualification (via Ecctis), and a £624 health surcharge must also be paid.

Overall, recipients of an HPI visa may have to either own or part with around £3,000, which makes the scheme rather expensive, especially when monies for accommodation and travel are added on top. That still isn’t everything though. Applicants must be able to prove their competence in English if they’re not from an English-speaking nation. This is done either with a Secure English Language Test or evidence of a qualification taught in English.

Since its creation, the High Potential Individual visa has been well-received. However, it does have a number of drawbacks that foreign nationals should be aware of. For one, it’s a temporary thing. Recipients of an HPI visa will have to leave the UK once the terms of their stay have expired. Unfortunately, this means that it’s unlikely to be popular with people wanting to start a new life and/or career in the country.

In summary, similar to the skilled worker visa, an HPI visa provides an opportunity for the highly educated to find work in a new country. For more information on qualifying universities, visit the Gov.UK website. Alternatively, read our article about the UK’s points-based immigration system by clicking here.