Under the newly introduced High Potential Individual Visa, international graduates from the most prestigious universities can work in the UK without the need for a job offer.

As part of the UK Government’s initiative to roll out redesigned immigration routes with the aim of cultivating and attracting global talent to enter the UK from abroad, the High Potential Individual Visa launched on 30th May 2022. The UK Government primary focus for this route is to attract top global graduates to develop their careers in the UK. This route also enables UK employers and entities to access high calibre talent with low barriers to employ.

What is the new High Potential Individual Visa?

The new High Potential Individual visa is designed to attract the academically elite to the UK, with the intention that these individuals will make positive contributions to the UK economy.

Interestingly, this route will enable global innovators and entrepreneurs who wish to set up a business or work in the UK. The UK Government understand that innovation is a key performance indicator  to economic success on a global stage and see the HPI visa as a method to catalyse growth in this area.

The route is also designed to make it easier for established UK entities and bodies to secure the talent they need to make them world leading. Examples include:

  • FinTech
  • Technological advancement
  • Digital technology
  • Vaccine development
  • Alternative energy solutions

Ultimately, the UK Government hopes this route will enable individuals within various sectors to advance their careers or companies in the UK, which will positively affect the UK economy.

What are the eligibility requirements for the High Potential Individual visa?

Under the new HPI visa, eligibility will be open to applicants who have graduated from a ‘top global university’. It is important to note that applicants on this route do not require a job offer to work in the UK. This route is in essence an unsponsored work route which allows individuals to pivot between roles and provides creative freedom to allow them to run their own start-ups.

High Potential Individual visa requirements: educational.

To be eligible for a HPI visa, the applicant must have been awarded an overseas Batchelor’s or postgraduate degree qualification in the last 5 years from a top university. A ‘top university’ is defined in the Home Office Global Universities List . The awarding institution must appear on the Global Universities List in respect of the date when the graduate was awarded their degree.

High Potential Individual visa requirements: English language.

To be eligible for a High Potential Individual visa the applicant must have the ability to understand and communicate in English to the relevant level as set out by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. This visa category requires an individual to be able to read, write, speak, and listen to at least Level B1. Please note there are other methods a High Potential visa applicant can satisfy the English language requirement.

These Include:

  • B1 English CEFR
  • Applicant is from a majority English-speaking country
  • If switching from within the UK they have passed the Secure English Language Test (SELT).
  • Meeting the English Language requirement under the NARIC route.

High Potential Individual visa requirements: financial

To be eligible on the High Potential Individual visa, an applicant must be able to show that they can support themselves on their arrival in the UK without relying on public funds. In order to prove this, they must be able to show cash funds of at least £1,270 within their bank account.

The High Potential Individual visa applicant must be able to show that they have held these funds in their bank account for 28 days or more, ending no more than 31 days before the date of their application.

If an applicant is applying from within the UK and switching to this route, they will not need to show funds under this requirement provided they have been in the UK for at least 12 months.

How to apply for the High Potential Individual visa

The application process for the High Potential Individual visa is similar to other work-related visa applications in the UK. The applicant must submit an online application, pay the relevant fee, and provide the mandatory documents along with supplementary evidence to form a strong application. Applicants must attend an appointment to provide their biometric information including a photo of their face and scan of their fingerprints.

Instructing Branch Austin McCormick

Branch Austin McCormick’s Corporate Immigration Team can assist prospective applicants with end-to-end legal advice and representation in preparing a strong application. Our Solicitors and Lawyers can advise on all documentary evidence, pre-submission checks and bespoke legal representations which all contribute to ensuring an application is successful and project managed in a timely manner. Our lawyers are well regarded in this field and given that this route is new, following the UK Government’s broader innovation strategy from 2021, it is often preferred that a prospective applicant has a lawyer to ensure the application is successful. Main points of contact at Branch Austin McCormick for this visa route is Sofia Marques Anaya.


For further information on the issues raised, please contact Jayesh Jethwa or the Corporate Immigration Team.

Branch Austin McCormick LLP
32 St James’s Street