If you’re a recent graduate from a top global university looking to work or explore job opportunities in the United Kingdom, the High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa might be the perfect fit for you. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for at least two years, providing an excellent opportunity to kickstart your career. In this article, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about the UK High Potential Individual Visa to help you navigate the application process with ease.
Who is eligible for the High Potential Individual Visa?
To be eligible for the High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be aged 18 or over.
- Hold an overseas degree-level academic qualification awarded by a university listed on the Global Universities List within the last 5 years.
- Demonstrate English language proficiency at least equivalent to CEFR Level B1 (IELTS 4.0).
- Have sufficient financial resources to support yourself during your stay without relying on public funds.
- Not have previously been granted permission under the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme, as a Graduate, or as a High Potential Individual.
- Provide a valid TB certificate if required.
Please note that specific requirements may vary depending on your circumstances.
How do I confirm that my overseas degree meets the criteria?
Your overseas degree must meet or exceed the recognized standard of a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree. To confirm this, you’ll need to obtain verification from Ecctis, which will also confirm the date of when you were awarded your degree.
What if I completed a UK degree?
If you’ve completed an eligible UK degree as an international student, you may qualify for the Graduate Immigration Route instead of the HPI Visa.
How can I prove my English language proficiency for the HPI Visa?
You can prove your English language skills in several ways, including:
- Passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider.
- Holding a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher, or Advanced Higher in English obtained through study at a UK school when you were under 18.
- Possessing a degree-level academic qualification taught in English. If you studied abroad, you may need confirmation from Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD.
Exemptions apply if you’re a national of specific English-speaking countries or territories, as listed in the requirements.
What are the financial requirements for the HPI Visa?
To meet the financial requirements for the HPI Visa, you’ll typically need to have access to a minimum of £1,270 in cash funds. You must have held these funds for at least 28 consecutive days, ending no more than 31 days before your visa application date. However, if you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for 12 months or more at the time of application, you may not need to demonstrate these funds.
Can I switch to the HPI Visa from another immigration category?
You may switch to the High Potential Individual Visa route if you currently have leave to remain in another immigration category. However, certain categories, such as Visitor, Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household, and cases outside the Immigration Rules, may not be eligible for switching.
How long is the High Potential Individual Visa valid?
The duration of your High Potential Individual Visa depends on the qualification you relied on to meet the Global Universities List overseas degree requirement:
- PhD or other doctoral level qualification: 3 years.
- All other degree qualifications: 2 years.
What can I do during my stay on the HPI Visa?
While on the HPI Visa, you’re permitted to work, including self-employment and voluntary work, except as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. You can also pursue studies, but not on a course that meets the requirements of the Student route. However, you won’t have access to public funds.
Can I extend my High Potential Individual Visa?
No, it’s not possible to extend the High Potential Individual Visa. However, before your leave expires, you may apply from within the UK to switch to another immigration route, provided you meet the requirements of the desired route.
Does the High Potential Individual Visa lead to settlement in the UK?
The High Potential Individual Visa does not directly lead to settlement in the UK. However, before your leave expires, you can apply from within the UK to switch into another immigration route that offers settlement, such as the Skilled Worker route.
Can my family join me in the UK on the HPI Visa?
Yes, your dependents, including a partner over the age of 18 and dependent children under 18, can join or accompany you in the UK on the High Potential Individual Visa.
How many times can I apply for an HPI visa?
You can apply for the High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa once in your lifetime. It’s essential to make the most of this opportunity by ensuring that you meet all the eligibility criteria and prepare a strong application.
Can I study on an HPI Visa?
While the primary purpose of the HPI Visa is for work or career development, you may study on this visa if your chosen course is not eligible for a Student Visa. If your course is eligible for a Student Visa, you have the option to apply for a Student Visa instead or extend your existing Student Visa if you already have one.
How long does it take to get an HPI Visa?
Once you’ve submitted your application online, provided proof of identity, and submitted your documents, you can usually expect to receive a decision within three weeks. It’s essential to plan your application well in advance to ensure a smooth transition to the UK.
Can I extend my HPI Visa?
It is not possible to extend the HPI Visa. However, you have the option to explore other visa categories, such as the Skilled Worker Visa, if you wish to extend your stay in the UK beyond the expiration of your HPI Visa.
Do I need a job offer for an HPI Visa?
No, you do not require a prior job offer to qualify for the High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa. This visa allows you to work in the UK without the need for a sponsor, making it an attractive option for recent graduates seeking employment opportunities.
What are the restrictions of the HPI Visa?
While the HPI Visa offers significant flexibility, it does come with certain restrictions. You cannot:
- Apply for most benefits (public funds) or the State Pension.
- Work as a professional sportsperson.
- Extend this visa.
- Apply to settle permanently in the UK.
How we can help
To discuss your HPI visa application with an experienced immigration adviser, please contact our team on +442087575751 or use our contact form.