The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa is aimed at foreign nationals with a recent foreign-level academic qualification from a top international university who wish to come to the UK to work or look for work.
The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa is for foreign nationals who have recently obtained a foreign-level academic qualification from a top international university to come to the UK to work or look for work. If you are considering the High Potential Individual Visa, it is important to note:
- You do not need a job offer to apply.
- You can apply from within or outside the UK.
- University-level qualifications from UK universities are not qualifying.
If you have or are about to complete a qualification at undergraduate level or above in the UK, consider the Graduate Visa or Skilled Worker Visa as an alternative.
UK High Potential Individual Visa Requirements
To qualify for the UK High Potential Individual Visa you must have obtained an overseas degree qualification within the last 5 years from a top global university recognized by the Home Office. Below are the detailed HPI visa eligibility criteria:
- Have a qualification equivalent to a UK undergraduate degree, a UK postgraduate degree or a UK Ph.D. or doctorate from an eligible university (only universities outside the UK are eligible for this program) acquired within the last 5 years.
- Meet the English language requirement: at least B1 level
- Have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK (this requirement does not apply if you have already been in the UK for 1 year or more).
It is important to note that you cannot apply for a UK HPI visa if:
- You have previously been granted an HPI visa (you can only apply once under this program)
- You were previously granted a graduate visa
- You have already spent time in the UK as a Doctorate Extension Scheme student
High Potential Individual visa university list
Applicants for the High Potential Individual visa must have been awarded an overseas degree-level academic qualification during the 5 years before the date of their application. Your qualification must also meet or exceed the standard of a UK bachelor’s or UK postgraduate degree, according to Ecctis.
You will need to submit an application to Ecctis and pay a fee to have your qualification checked before you can apply for your visa. Qualifications gained from a UK university do not qualify for the HPI visa.
The High Potential Individual visa university list is published by the government and is updated each year. The list contains the top 50 non-UK universities. Here is the latest qualifying universities list in 2021 for UK High Potential Individual visa.
High Potential Individual Visa English language requirement
To meet the HPI visa English language requirement, applicants must either:
- Pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) English language qualification at CEFR Level B1 or above in speaking, listening, reading, and writing
- Have a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, from an educational establishment in the UK that you started when under the age of 18
- Have a degree-level qualification taught in English – this must be equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D., or
- Be from an exempt English-speaking country1.
High Potential Individual visa financial requirement
HPI visa applicants must have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the UK. The current requirement is £1,270 or more and must have been held by the applicant for at least 28-days before the date of application. If you are already in the UK and have been here for 12 months or more, you will not be required to meet the support funds requirement.
High Potential Individual visa required document checklist
To make a successful HPI visa application, it is essential that you provide all of the documents requested by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI); these documents may include:
- A statement from Ecctis confirming your qualification is eligible for the HPI visa scheme (an Academic Qualification Level Statement)
- Proof of meeting the English language requirement, such as a pass certificate for a Secure English Language Test (SELT) English language qualification at CEFR Level B1 or above, evidence you have a degree or higher taught in English etc.
- A bank statement showing you have held £1,270 in savings for at least 28 days before applying
- passport to prove your ID
- biometric residence permit (BRP) or other evidence of your immigration status if you are in the UK
- evidence of your relationship to your dependant partner or children if they are applying with you
- your tuberculosis (TB) test results if you are from a listed country
Please note above document checklist is not comprehensive. The required documents may vary based on your individual circumstances for your application.
How to apply for a UK High Potential Individual visa UK
To apply for a UK High Potential Individual visa, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Apply to Ecctis2 to check if your qualification is valid.
- Complete and submit the HPI application form online3.
- Pay the application fees.
- Book an appointment with a UKVCAS service point (if inside the UK) or VAC (if outside the UK) to provide your biometrics. You may also be able to provide your biometrics using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app.
- Upload your documents to UKVI.
- Attend your biometric appointment and provide your biometrics.
In most cases, you can expect to receive a decision within 3 weeks on your HPI visa UK application.
How long does a high potential individual visa last?
You will be able to stay in the UK for up to 2 or 3 years with a high-potential individual visa. The exact amount of time you will be allowed to stay depends on your qualification level. Holders of a Ph.D. or other doctoral-level qualification can stay in the UK for up to 3 years. All other degree holders will be permitted to stay for up to 2 years.
Unfortunately, the High Potential Individual visa cannot be further extended past the initial period granted. Where a visa holder in this category wishes to stay longer, they will need to apply to switch to a different type of visa (e.g., Skilled Worker visa).
High Potential Individual visa dependants
Potential Individual visa holders can bring their dependant partner and children with them to the UK. Eligible dependant family members include your:
- husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner (unmarried partners must have been together in a relationship for at least 2 years)
- child if they are under 18
- child if they are over 18 and are still dependant on you (i.e., living with and financially supported by you). Your child will still be classed as a dependant if they attend boarding school or live away at college or university.
Your dependants will need to apply separately, pay an application fee, have their biometrics (fingerprints and photo) taken, and otherwise meet all of the requirements to enter or stay in the UK. They will also need to provide evidence of sufficient support funds, as follows:
- £285 for your partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
The rules also state that where your partner or children cannot apply as a dependant of an HPI visa holder if they are in the UK:
- 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; or
- outside the immigration rules
High Potential Individual visa to ILR
The High Potential Individual visa does not provide a direct route to ILR (settlement in the UK), but there may be options available if you wish to stay in the UK permanently. In most cases, you will be able to switch an ILR qualifying visa while in the UK. You will need to apply before your existing visa expires.