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UK launches new High Potential Individual route

30 May 2022

The High Potential Individual (HPI) route has gone live from 9 am on 30 May 2022, giving eligible individuals a new short-term immigration option for the UK.

The HPI route is intended for recent graduates from top universities to be able to live and work in the UK on an unsponsored basis.

It has a similar grant profile to the Graduate route, offering successful applicants three years’ immigration permission if they have a qualification equivalent to a UK PhD, or two years if they have one that is equivalent to a UK Bachelor or Master’s degree.

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible, an applicant must:

  • Be aged 18 or over;
  • Have been awarded an academic qualification equivalent to a UK bachelors or UK postgraduate degree within the five years before the date of application (an Ecctis certificate will be needed to show the equivalence of the degree);
  • Have received their degree from an institution included on the Global Universities List published by the Home Office on GOV.UK;
  • Meet an English language requirement at or above Level B1 on the CEFR;
  • Meet a financial requirement of £1,270, unless they are applying in the UK have lived in the UK with immigration permission for at least 12 months before the application;
  • Hold a valid certificate certifying they are free of TB, if required;
  • Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge; and
  • Not previously have been granted immigration permission as a Graduate, Doctorate Extension Scheme participant or HPI.

The Global Universities List includes all institutions ranked within the top 50 of at least two of the following ranking systems:

  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings
  • Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings
  • Academic Ranking of World Universities

Lists have been published for 2016 to 2021 and will be updated annually.

The 2021 list covers qualifications awarded between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022. It includes 37 institutions, with the majority being in the USA (20), followed by Canada (3), China (2), Japan (2), Hong Kong (2), Singapore (2), Switzerland (2), Australia (1), France (1), Germany (1) and Sweden (1).

The Government has taken a conservative approach to defining the potential pool of eligible applicants, and will be monitoring uptake over the coming months. Depending on the initial assessments of the utility of the route and whether it is meeting its intended purpose, it is possible that the eligibility criteria for the route may be adjusted over time, e.g. to include further universities and/or to expand the ways applicants may qualify, such as through eligible work experience.

Application process

It is possible for applications to be made either from abroad or from within the UK, provided the applicant is not in the UK as a visitor with other limited (mostly short-term) immigration statuses.

Applications by partner and child dependants are allowed.

Comments for employers

This route allows employers to avoid the cost and administration of sponsorship. It may prove attractive in some cases as a vehicle for employing individuals who only wish to work in the UK for a short, fixed period.

The route does not lead to settlement in its own right, and it is not a category under which time can be counted as part of the continuous qualifying period for settlement in any other route. It is therefore likely that some eligible applicants may prefer either to bypass the route in favour of one that leads to settlement, or will seek to switch into a settlement route as soon as they are eligible.

Employers should be aware that migrants in this route may approach them for sponsorship at some point before their HPI permission is due to expire. Sponsored options currently include the Skilled Worker route, and the Scale-up route once available.

When planning a work start date, all applicants should factor in longer than usual processing times as discussed in our earlier article here.

If you have any queries about making an application under this route, please get in touch with a member of our Immigration Team.

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