What is the High Potential Individual visa?

The High Potential Individual visa route is for international graduates with a certain academic qualification. 

The qualification must be equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree. If that’s the case, international graduates will be enabled to apply for the High Potential Individual visa and, if they are successful, they will be able to stay in the UK for 2 or 3 years, depending on what kind of qualification they have. 

High Potential Individual visa requirements

Global Universities List overseas degree requirement

International graduates are eligible for the High Potential Individual visa if they have been awarded a qualification by an eligible university. An eligible university is an institution that is present on the Global Universities List (GUL). 

The list of eligible universities changes depending on the year in which the international graduate has received the qualification. 

UK universities are not eligible, but the international graduate’s qualification must be at the same level as a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree, Ph.D., or doctorate.

If the international graduate doesn’t know this, they can check Ecctis. Ecctis it helpful to verify if the graduate’s qualification is valid for the High Potential Individual visa, but not if the institution that awards it is valid as well. That information can be found on the aforementioned Global University List. 

Financial requirements for a High Potential Individual visa

International graduates must pay for the application fees, healthcare surcharge fees, and Ecctis fees. But they must also be able to demonstrate that they can support themselves in the UK if they travel there with a High Potential Individual visa. That’s why they must have had at least £1,270 available for at least 28 days in a row in a bank account. A bank statement or other documents will be required to prove this. 

English language requirement

Applicants for the High Potential Individual visa must have an English level B1 in all 4 components: reading, speaking, writing, and listening.

Applicants who have obtained their degree in a university of a majority-English-speaking country will automatically meet this requirement. Other applicants may have to take an English test from an approved provider up to 2 years before the date of application (if they are not from a majority-English-speaking country). 

The majority-English-speaking countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America.

Conditions of the High Potential Individual visa

Successful applicants for the High Potential Individual visa route will be allowed to work in most jobs, including voluntary work and self-employment. The only restriction is that they can’t work as professional sportspeople, including as sports coaches.

Although successful applicants for the High Potential Individual visa route can study in the UK, study must be subject to the ATAS condition

They can’t apply to settle permanently in the UK or have access to public funds in any way.

High Potential Individual visa costs

Applicants for the High Potential Individual visa route must cover the following costs:

  • Application fee: £715.
  • Qualification validity check at Ecctis: £210.
  • Immigration healthcare surcharge: £624 per year (£1,248 if the applicant will be staying in the UK for 2 years, and £1,872 if they will be staying in the UK for 3 years).
  • Personal savings: £1,270.

Some professionals who get a job in the public healthcare sector in the UK are eligible to obtain a refund for the healthcare surcharge. Requirements can be found here.

How to apply for High Potential Individual visa

Graduates must apply for the High Potential Individual visa route from outside the UK within 5 years of being awarded a qualification from an eligible university. 

They will be required to prove their identity in two different ways depending on where they are from and what type of passport they have. They will either have to go to a visa application center to provide biometric information or they could scan their identity documents with the UK Immigration: ID Check app. A UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account will be needed for this. 

Required documents include:

  • A valid passport or another document that serves as proof of your identity.
  • Proof of the applicant’s level of English (B1 minimum).
  • Academic Qualification Level Statement, or Academic Qualification Level Statement and English Language Proficiency Statement, issued by Ecctis. 
  • Tuberculosis test results if the applicant comes from one of the listed countries.

All documents must be in English or Welsh. Otherwise, the applicant must provide a certified translation by a verifiable translation company or professional translator.

High Potential Individual visa holder family

The partner and children of most High Potential Individual visa holders can apply to stay in the UK as dependants. 

In the case of partners, both marriages and civil partnerships are allowed, but these must be recognized in the UK. High Potential Individual visa holders can also bring unmarried partners to the UK if they’ve living with them for at least 2 years.

As for children, all sons and daughters under 18 years old are eligible, including those who were born in the UK. Children over 18 years old are eligible if they live with the visa holder and depend financially on him/her, and if they do not have their own partner and children. 

To apply as dependants, all family members must pay the application fees and have their own money to support themselves in the UK —at least £285 for the partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child. 

Plus, they must be able to prove their identity and their relationship with the visa holder.

Extending the High Potential Individual visa

The High Potential Individual visa can’t be extended, but holders can apply for a different type of visa from inside the UK. An alternative visa option for ‘high potential’ applicants is the Skilled Worker visa. 

Switching into the High Potential Individual visa route

High potential individuals can switch to this visa if they are in the UK on another type of visa. However, they can’t switch to this visa if they are currently:

  • On a visit visa.
  • On a short-term student visa.
  • On a Graduate visa.
  • On a Parent of a Child Student visa.
  • On a seasonal worker visa.
  • On a domestic worker in a private household visa.
  • On immigration bail.
  • Outside normal immigration rules, for example, on compassionate grounds.

Application to switch to the High Potential Individual visa should be started online before the individual’s current visa expires.

Receiving decision on UK High Potential Individual visa

The applicant can expect to receive a decision via email within 8 weeks from the date of application.

The decision can take longer if:

  • Some documents need to be verified.
  • The applicant has certain personal circumstances, such as a criminal conviction.
  • The applicant needs to attend an interview.

The decision can take shorter if, at the time of application, the applicant pays an additional fee of £500 for priority service or £800 for super priority service. 

The priority service aims at delivering a decision within 5 working days from the date of the applicant’s appointment at a visa application center or from the date that the applicant has finished scanning their documents in the UK Immigration: ID Check app. 

The super priority service can help applicants obtain a decision in 1 or 2 days. 

Frequently asked questions about UK High Potential Individual visa

  1. Do I have to meet the financial requirement if I’m switching to this visa from another one?
  • Yes, but only if you’ve been in the UK for less than a year.
  1. When will the Global Universities List (GUL) be updated?
  • The UK Government updates the Global Universities List every year. 
  1. Do I need a sponsor to qualify for this visa or to work in the UK?
  • No. All you need is the academic qualification from an institution present on the Global Universities List.  Work permission will be granted along with the visa.
  1. Can I travel abroad while I’m in the UK with this visa?
  • Yes. You can travel abroad and go back to the UK as you wish, except if you’ve applied to switch to this visa from inside the UK and are waiting for a decision. In this case, you aren’t allowed to leave the country.
  1. What kind of biometric information will be required for this visa?
  • Mostly fingerprints and photographs if you are going to a visa application center to obtain a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
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