WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW UK HIGH POTENTIAL INDIVIDUAL VISA

The UK recently announced a new High Potential Individual visa as part of its Innovation Strategy, aimed at “opening [the UK’s] borders to top talent”. The route will be open to “applicants who have graduated from a top global university” and will allow holders to live and work in the UK without the need for a sponsor.

Further details about the new High Potential Individual visa are expected to be announced later in 2021, but here’s what we currently know.

What is the new High Potential Individual UK visa?

The new High Potential Individual UK visa is aimed at attracting top international talent to the UK, prioritising people with the skills the country needs to meet its ‘levelling up’ agenda. The visa is aimed at the highly skilled and academically elite who can share their talents and make a positive contribution to the UK economy.

Why is the High Potential Individual visa being introduced now?

The British government aims to make the UK the “easiest country in the world for top Innovative Talent to enter” and to achieve that goal the High Potential Individual visa is being introduced. Distinct from existing skilled visa routes – such as the UK Skilled Work visa and Global Talent visa – the High Potential Individual visa will help top internationally mobile talent from across the world who demonstrate high potential to come to the UK and realise their ambitions.

What is the eligibility criteria for the High Potential Individual visa?

Very little detail has so far been published on eligibility criteria, other than stating that High Potential Individual visa applicants will need to have graduated from a “top global university”.

That’s a big open question as to what defines a “top global university”, but institutions that appears on these lists are likely to qualify:

QS World University Rankings

Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Round University Rankings

So if you’ve graduated from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Oxford University, Stanford University or the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) you’re on pretty safe ground to meet the High Potential Individual visa eligibility criteria. How far down such lists the UK will deem an institution to still be top globally remains to be seen.

The High Potential Individual visa will slot into the UK’s Points-based System for immigration, so when the visa is launched it’ll be straightforward to see exactly what the requirements are and how you can mix and match education with experience, if at all.

Are there any quotas for the High Potential Individual visa?

There’s been no information announced on quotas at the moment.

Will I be able to extend a High Potential Individual visa?

Information published so far states that holders of the High Potential Individual visa will be able to extend it for a maximum duration of 5 years. As the UK typically issues immigration-style visas for 30-36 months at a time, it’s likely you’ll need to initially apply for the High Potential Individual visa and then extend it.

Does the High Potential Individual visa count towards settlement in the UK?

Yes it does, after 5 years you’ll be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK and also potentially British citizenship.

This is in contrast to other recently announced new UK visa routes, such as the Graduate Immigration visa, which doesn’t lead directly to settlement.

Can I bring my family to the UK with me on a High Potential Individual visa?

No information has been announced about bringing dependents with you to the UK on a High Potential Individual visa. Similar visas, such as the Global Talent visa, don’t allow you to bring dependents, however the new Skilled Worker visa does permit this. We’ll have to wait and see.

When will the High Potential Individual visa launch?

The UK government hasn’t given a definitive timeline for the High Potential Individual visa launch but many commentators expect it to go-live towards the end of 2021.

How much will the High Potential Individual visa cost?

The cost is another big question mark, with no information provided so far. The UK government has also not confirmed whether the High Potential Individual visa will attract the Immigration Health Surcharge payment, although we suspect it will.

How can I find out more about the High Potential Individual visa?

The best way to keep updated on news about the UK High Potential Individual visa is to sign up to our mailing list. You’ll receive 2-4 emails per month on a range of visa, travel and  immigration subjects, including guidance on how to apply for the High Potential Individual visa when it launches. Fill out the form below to get started

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