The United Kingdom is one of the world’s most attractive destinations for talented individuals who wish to work and develop their careers. The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa lets you stay in the United Kingdom for at least two years. To qualify for this visa, you must have obtained a degree or certification from an accredited university within the past five years. In this article, we will explore the key features of the HPI Visa, including eligibility criteria, the application process, and benefits.
The HPI visa allows Bachelors and Masters degree graduates two years and PhD graduates three years stay in the UK. You do not need an offer of employment to qualify. Apart from being employed as a professional sportsperson, there aren’t any restrictions on the kind of work you can do.
To apply for a new visa, you must submit your application online. The process may differ depending on whether you are outside the UK or are already in the UK and switching from another visa. If your partner and children meet the requirements, they can also apply to stay in the UK as your dependents.
HPI Visa Requirements
To be eligible for a High Potential Individual (HPI) visa:
- An eligible university must have awarded you a qualification
- The qualification must have been awarded at most 5 years before their application and be from a university that appears on the gov.uk website, which covers the date of the award
- You must prove your knowledge of English
- You must prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK unless you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months
- You may need to provide a TB test certificate proving you are free from tuberculosis if you apply from certain countries.
The HPI Visa is a points-based immigration category open to applicants of all nationalities. To be eligible, applicants must be awarded 50 points for their degree, 10 points for their English language skills and 10 points for satisfying the financial requirement. Applicants must score 70 mandatory points to be eligible.
HPI Qualification Requirements
To be eligible, the candidate must hold a degree-level qualification obtained overseas within the past 5 years from the date of application. Ecctis must verify this qualification as equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree (usually a Master’s or PhD). Ecctis will confirm the award date, month, and year through the Academic Qualification Level Statement.
The eligibility of universities is determined by their rankings on a global scale, and a list of acceptable universities can be found on the gov.uk website. The Home Office will publish the Global Universities List (GUL) annually on the gov.uk website.
UK universities are not included in the list of eligible universities.
For advice or assistance with an HPI Visa application, contact our experienced immigration team on +442087575751 or use our contact form.
English Language Requirement
You must prove you can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
You can prove your knowledge of English by:
- passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider
- having a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, gained through study at a UK school that you began when you were under 18
- having a degree-level academic qualification taught in English – if you studied abroad, you’ll need to apply through Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) for confirmation that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.
You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries or territories:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- the British overseas territories
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
HPI Visa Application Financial Requirements
When submitting an application for the High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, you must ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover the following expenses:
- £210 for Ecctis to verify the validity of your qualifications (£252 if you are applying from within the UK).
- £715 for the visa application fee.
- The healthcare surcharge which typically amounts to £624 for each year that you plan to stay in the UK.
- Sufficient funds to support yourself upon your arrival in the UK. This usually entails having at least £1,270 available, unless you are exempt.
To qualify for this visa, you must demonstrate that you have had access to the necessary funds for at least 28 days, with day 28 falling within 31 days of your visa application. Unless you have been legally present in the UK for a minimum of 12 months, it is typically required that you provide proof of these funds at the time of your application. If you are applying with a partner or child, you may need to provide additional funds.
Benefits of HPI Visa
The Highly Skilled Worker (HPI) Visa provides several benefits, including the ability to work in most job positions, search for employment opportunities, engage in self-employment, reside in the UK with eligible partners and children, perform voluntary work, and travel abroad while retaining the ability to return to the UK.
The application process for the High Potential Individual (HPI) visa typically involves the following steps:
- Check your eligibility: Before applying for the HPI visa, it is essential to check your eligibility criteria. You must have been awarded a degree or certification from a recognised university within the past five years.
- Prepare your documentation: You must gather and prepare various documents, including your passport and proof of financial support.
- Submit your application online: Once you have all the required documentation, you can submit your application online via the UK government website. You will be required to pay the application fee at this stage. The process will be different based on whether you are applying outside the UK or switching from a different category within the UK.
- Biometric enrolment: After submitting your application, you must provide your biometric information, including fingerprints and a photograph, at a visa application centre.
- Wait for a decision: The processing time for an HPI visa application may vary, but it typically takes around three weeks.
- Collect your visa: If your application is successful, you will be issued a visa vignette to attach to your passport. You can then travel to the UK within the validity period of the vignette and collect your biometric residence permit upon arrival in the UK.
Switching From a Different Visa Category
An applicant who is in the UK cannot apply to switch into the High Potential Individual route if they have, or were last granted permission:
- as a Visitor
- as a Short-term Student
- as a Parent of a Child Student
- as a Seasonal Worker
- as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household
- outside the Immigration Rules
If previously you were granted permission under the High Potential Individual, Graduate route or the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), your application will be refused.
If you wish to extend your stay in the UK beyond the expiration of your High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, you cannot apply for an extension. However, you may be eligible to switch to a different type of visa, such as a Skilled Worker visa.
HPI Visa Restrictions
If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with an HPI visa. 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.
Frequently asked questions
You can only apply for an HPI visa once.
You can only study with an HPI visa if your chosen course is not eligible for a Student visa. If your course is eligible for a Student visa, you can apply for a Student visa instead, or extend your Student visa if you already have one.
Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision within 3 weeks.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to extend the HPI visa. It is neither possible to settle permanently in the UK under this route.
An applicant does not require a prior job offer to qualify and will be permitted to work in the UK without the need for a sponsor.