The High Potential Individual Visa Route Opens
On the 30 May 2022 the UK opened its doors to visa applications by high potential individuals under the new high potential individual visa. A key point about this work visa route is that it is unsponsored. UK employers don’t need a sponsor licence and visa applicants don’t need a sponsoring employer and certificate of sponsorship.
In this article our immigration lawyers summarise the essential eligibility criteria for the high potential individual visa so individuals can assess whether the high potential individual visa could help them with their plans to work in the UK and UK based businesses can work out whether the high potential individual visa will address their recruitment needs.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
The brightest and best
The high potential individual visa is part of the government‘s plan to attract the very brightest and best to the UK as part of an elite based entry clearance route.
For business immigration solicitors it adds another ‘elite’ route for overseas workers to consider alongside the five new global business mobility visa routes and the existing:
- Global talent visa – for those with talent or potential
- The start-up visa or innovator visa – for entrepreneurs looking to set up an innovative and scalable business in the UK
It isn’t surprising if you are confused by your immigration options or if you are unsure whether you best fit into the category of a person with global talent (or potential) or if you are a high potential individual.
If the immigration choices on offer are causing uncertainty, call our work visa lawyers and business immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 for straight forward clear advice or for help with your visa application or overseas recruitment needs.
What is the high potential individual visa?
The high potential individual visa is a post-study immigration route where, if you fall within the definition of a ‘high potential’ person, it is easier to secure a visa to work in the UK than other types of work visa, such as the skilled worker visa or the health and care worker visa or the senior or specialist worker visa.
Who can apply for a high potential individual visa?
The eligibility criteria for the high potential individual visa means the route is restricted to recent graduates of top international universities. The list of universities on the Home Office Global Universities List doesn’t include colleges in the UK but if you are an international student graduating from a UK university you may meet the eligibility criteria for a graduate visa.
Academic qualifications for a high potential individual visa
To apply for a high potential individual visa, you need either a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree qualification. However, you must have been awarded your qualification in the last five years and you will only qualify if your college or educational establishment appears on the Home Office list.
Although the list is reviewed annually the immigration rules say to qualify for the high potential individual visa your university must be included on the list on the date you graduated from the higher education institution.
You may question how international colleges are chosen for inclusion on the Global Universities List. A college will appear on the list if it is included in a list of the top 50 universities in at least two of these university league tables:
- Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings
- The Academic Ranking of World Universities
- Times Higher Education World University Rankings
Applying for a high potential individual visa
In addition to having the right academic qualification you will also need to:
- Be aged eighteen or over
- Meet the English language requirement
- Meet the maintenance requirement – essentially you need to be able to show that you have held funds of at least £1,270 for 28 days
You can't access public funds while in the UK on a high potential individual visa but you can bring family members with you if they qualify for a dependant visa.
Applications for the high potential individual visa can be made from within the UK or from overseas.
Length of the high potential individual visa
If you are a person of high potential, the likelihood is that you will want to plan your career and want to know if entry clearance on the high potential individual visa will lead to the option of visa extensions and ultimately to settlement in the UK.
The immigration rules say high potential individuals get leave to stay in the UK for two or three years. As you aren’t restricted to employment by a sponsoring employer with a sponsor licence you can apply for any level of employment. That means that, unlike skilled worker visa holders, your job doesn’t need to have a standardised occupational code or meet the minimum salary threshold for a work visa.
Whether you can stay for two or three years depends on your academic qualifications. If you have the equivalent of a UK Bachelor or Master level degree you can get a visa for up to two years. If you have a qualification equivalent to a UK PhD then you can get UK entry clearance for a stay of up to three years.
With the high potential individual visa, you can't apply to extend the visa and the visa isn’t a route to UK settlement. However, a key advantage of the high potential individual visa is that you don’t need a job offer before you can apply for the visa. That enables you to come to the UK and search for the right job for you. If you then decide you want to stay in the UK on a long term basis you can apply to switch to another visa. For example, you could apply to switch to the skilled worker visa provided you can find employment with a sponsoring employer with a Home Office issued sponsor licence and your job meets the skilled worker visa eligibility criteria.
Will the high potential individual visa help UK employers?
For UK employers the best thing about the high potential individual visa is that a job applicant doesn’t need to be sponsored and therefore there is no hassle over the overseas worker and their job description meeting the eligibility criteria for a skilled worker visa. In addition, employing a worker on the high potential individual visa gives greater flexibility as you can change their role (subject to complying with UK employment law) without having to try to change the job description on the certificate of sponsorship and reporting changes on the sponsor management system.
There is a word of warning as Sponsorship Licence lawyers recommend that UK businesses look at their long term recruitment needs as a high potential individual visa holder can only stay in the UK for two or three years and they then have to leave or switch to another visa. To keep a well-qualified and experienced worker, an employer may need to move their employee onto a skilled worker visa to enable the overseas worker to eventually meet the residence requirement to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Some UK employers therefore are questioning if the new high potential individual visa just gives a short term advantage that isn’t necessarily good for an employer if you want a highly qualified employee who is going to be committed long term to the UK and to your business.
If you have questions about work visas and business immigration our Sponsorship Licence lawyers are here to help with your questions about individual work visa applications or business immigration solutions.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors