High Potential Individual visa scheme to import new talent to the UK
May 2022 saw the introduction of the High Potential Individual visa to the UK. This new route into the UK is a small part of a broader set of global mobility schemes, designed to attract overseas talent. The visa will allow individuals to live and work in the UK if they are a recent graduate from one of the top universities in the world and they meet other eligibility criteria.
Professionals on the move
The measure is timely, as there are large numbers of talented individuals currently on the move. A notable development in recent months is that Russia’s brain drain has been exacerbated by an exodus of around 200,000 individuals opposed to their country’s invasion of Ukraine, many of whom are tech industry professionals.
As Covid restrictions have been removed across the globe, international travel has moved back to something resembling the old norm and it is no surprise that the US and China already have equivalent visa schemes operating to lure in the world’s brightest and best.
“The new High Potential Individual route will make it as simple as possible for internationally mobile individuals who demonstrate high potential to come to the UK” – Kevin Foster, Minister for Safe and Legal Migration
Crucially, the criteria listed for the UK talent visas mean that the high potential individual does not need the offer of a job before applying, with no need for a Home-Office approved sponsor in the UK. High Potential Individual visa-holders will be permitted to work full time at any skill level and in any type of job, this includes self-employment and voluntary work.
These factors open the door to entrepreneurs and negate the need for would-be employers to pay a sponsor fee. The scheme is not capped. Unlike golden visas, wealth is not a determining factor, though applicants will need £1,270 to demonstrate they can support themselves when they first arrive without reliance on public funds.
The UK High Potential Individual visa requirements are as follows:
- The applicant must be aged 18 or over
- The applicant must, in the last 5 years, have been awarded an overseas degree level academic qualification which meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a UK bachelor’s degree
- The degree must have been awarded by an institution which appears on the top 50 Global Universities List*
- The applicant must not have been in the UK under the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme, as a Graduate or as a High Potential Individual
- The applicant must meet the English language requirements (at least CEFR Level B1) and they must have enough money to support themselves without relying on public funds
* The Global Universities List is published by the Home Office on an annual basis. The applicant’s university must appear on the Global Universities List on the date that they were awarded their degree.
Process and duration
Applicants will need to complete an online visa application, pay a £715 fee and submit various documents in support. Depending on which country they’re from and what type of passport they have, they may also need to have a photograph taken of their face and a scan of their fingerprints to enable them to obtain a biometric residence permit. Once an appointment has been scheduled, the applicant can have their supporting documents scanned at that appointment.
The visas only last for a duration of 2-3 years (depending on qualification). However, the intention is that visa holders would apply from inside the UK to switch into another immigration route before this expires. They would then need to satisfy all the requirements under their chosen route.
The advantage of the scheme for the UK government is simplicity: tight criteria mean less time spent processing applications. The drawback (as chief executives will know) is how to successfully identify genuine star performers. The scheme’s success may be difficult to gauge as there is no follow-up process to see where applicants ultimately end up.
The exact documentation that a High Potential Individual visa applicant will need to satisfy may vary depending on their circumstances, so expert advice should always be sought first. To find out more, or to discuss any other aspects of the new scheme, please feel free to contact Briars.