London Immigration Solicitors Guide to the UK High Potential Individual Visa
The high potential individual visa opened to applications on the 30 May 2022. Our immigration solicitors are receiving enquiries about the new visa and being asked whether it is the best visa option for graduates. In this article we answer your frequently asked questions on the high potential individual visa.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
Is the high potential individual visa your best visa option?
The high potential individual is an ‘elite’ visa designed to attract tech talent to the UK. Business immigration solicitors emphasise that applications are not restricted to those with technical qualifications or to those who are looking for work in the tech sector. Before you decide that the high potential individual visa is the best option for you, speak to our immigration solicitors so we can talk you through your various visa options and assess which visa gives you the most flexibility or will allow you to settle in the UK, if an application for indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship is your ultimate goal. Call us on 0203 959 9123.
Sponsorship and the high potential individual visa
Sponsorship Licence lawyers say applicants for the high potential individual visa do not need a sponsor. That means the visa has considerable advantages in comparison to the:
- Skilled worker visa
- The UK expansion worker visa (the old intra company transfer visa)
- Entrepreneur visas, such as the start-up visa or innovator visa
- Family visa
Eligibility criteria and the high potential individual visa
The eligibility criteria for the high potential individual visa are that you meet:
- The qualification criteria
- The financial requirement
- The English language requirement
- The standard UK immigration entry clearance requirements
- The age requirement – you must be at least 18 years old but there is no upper age limit
- The requirement to produce a TB certificate - this depends on the country you are applying from
Qualifications and the high potential individual visa
Whilst you may not need a sponsoring employer or a partner or endorsement to qualify for the high potential individual visa, you do need formal qualifications. The eligibility criteria states that you need to be a recent graduate of a leading overseas university and you must want to work in the UK.
Immigration lawyers emphasise that the qualifications criteria rule out those studying in the UK on international student visas. That’s because the qualifying degree must be from an overseas educational establishment. For those overseas students studying in the UK, the graduate visa may be their best option to remain in the UK whilst they look at their opportunities, such as securing the right long term job to meet their degree skills and then applying for a skilled worker visa.
Not all overseas degrees will qualify you for the high potential individual visa. To qualify you need:
- Either a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree qualification and
- Awarded in the last five years and
- From a college or educational establishment that was included on a Home Office Global Universities list on the date you graduated from the higher education institution
An overseas college or university will be placed on the Global Universities list if it is included in the league table of the top 50 universities in at least 2 of these 3 university lists:
- Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings
- The Academic Ranking of World Universities
- Times Higher Education World University Rankings
Job offers and the high potential individual visa
Unlike the skilled worker visa or UK expansion worker visa, you do not need a job offer to apply for a high potential individual visa. This, like the graduate visa, is a considerable advantage as it allows visa applicants to come to the UK and look for a job that suits their skills, rather than apply for employment from overseas.
The financial requirement and the high potential individual visa
The financial requirement is the same as for many other visa applications under the UK points based immigration system, namely that you need cash funds of at least £1,270 available. The immigration rules say you must have held the cash for at least 28 days ending on a date that isn’t more than 31 days before the date of your visa application.
Immigration solicitors say there is an exception to the financial requirement rule if you have had entry clearance in the UK for at least 12 months or more at the date of your high potential individual application. If so, you don’t need to show that you hold cash funds.
The English language requirement and the high potential individual visa
The English language requirement for the high potential individual visa is set at level B1 or above on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. To meet the English language requirement, you either need to sit and pass the English language test to level B1 or above or prove that you are exempt from sitting the test. You are likely to be exempt from sitting the test if you meet any of the below criteria:
- You are a national of a majority English-speaking country
- You were awarded a degree taught in English
- You obtained a GCSE or an A Level or Scottish Highers in English while you were attending school in the UK
- You have previously met the B1 requirement in a previous immigration application
Dependant visas and high potential individuals
If you are a high potential individual and you secure a UK visa you can apply to bring family members with you through the dependant visa scheme. The dependant visa will usually be granted for the same period of time as the main visa applicant’s visa.
Length of the high potential individual visa
The high potential individual visa is granted for 2 or 3 years. If you use a PhD or doctoral level qualification to apply for the visa then the visa length is 3 years. If you use a bachelor degree or master degree then the length is 2 years. You cannot apply to extend the high potential individual visa.
Settling in the UK after entry clearance on the high potential individual visa
The high potential individual visa route doesn’t lead directly to settlement in the UK but you can enter the UK on the high potential individual visa and before the visa expiry date apply to switch into a visa category that will lead to settlement. Switch visa options include the skilled worker visa or innovator visa or scale-up visa (opening to applications in August 2022).
Time spent on the high potential individual visa doesn’t count towards the five year residence requirement for an application for indefinite leave to remain so if your main goal is UK settlement, and you can find a sponsoring employer who is willing to sponsor you on a skilled worker visa, this may be a quicker route to settlement as all your time on the skilled worker visa counts towards meeting the indefinite leave to remain 5 year residence requirement, provided you meet the fairly complicated immigration rules on what counts as permitted absences from the UK during the 5 years.
How OTS Solicitors can help
Visa options can appear overwhelming or you may know that you want to apply for a high potential individual visa or skilled worker visa but you aren’t sure about the application process. Our specialist team of immigration lawyers can help with all your visa queries.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors