All About The High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa
The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa was introduced by the Home Office in May 2022 to enable graduates from top-ranked international universities to live and work in the UK. Unlike other work visa schemes, such as the Skilled Worker visa, applicants do not require a job offer before they apply. In this blog, we will discuss the qualification criteria that must be met when applying for an HPI visa and how to apply.
What are the benefits of the HPI (High Potential Individual) Visa?
HPI visa holders enjoy a number of flexible benefits, including being able to work for any employer (even those without a sponsor licence) in any role, be self-employed, do voluntary work, and travel freely in and out of the UK. Importantly, those granted an HPI visa can also bring their dependant spouse and children members to join them in the UK. Once in the UK, HPI visa holders can stay for up to 2 years or 3 years if they hold a PhD or other doctoral qualification.
Can the HPI visa be extended?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to further extend the HPI visa. While it is not possible to further extend the HPI visa beyond the expiry date, holders of this type of visa can apply to switch to another visa type (e.g. a Skilled Worker visa).
Can I switch to the HPI visa?
Yes, if you are currently in the UK on another type of valid visa, then it may be possible for you to switch to an HPI visa without needing to leave the UK. It is important to note, however, that it is not possible to switch to an HPI visa from within the UK if you currently hold a visit visa, a short-term student visa, a Graduate visa, a Parent of a Child Student visa, a seasonal worker visa, a domestic worker in a private household visa, or if you are on immigration bail or you were given permission to stay outside the immigration rules.
HPI visa eligibility criteria
To make a successful High potential visa application, applicants must have:
- Graduated from a top-ranked university
In order to apply for an HPI visa, applicants must be able to prove that they have graduated from a top-ranked university outside the UK in the last 5 years. The Home Office publishes a list of eligible universities, which is updated annually based on the latest university performance rankings. To check whether you graduated from an eligible university, you must check the list from the year in which you graduated. The current list of eligible universities include institutions from the USA, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Singapore, China, Germany, France, and Australia.
- Have a suitable university-level qualification
The qualification gained at one of the listed top-ranked universities in the last 5 years must be equivalent to either a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK postgraduate degree, or a UK PhD or doctorate. To check this is the case, all HPI visa candidates are required to send an application to Ecctis, who will check that their international qualification meets the required standard.
- Meet the English language requirements
The English language requirements can be met by:
- Having a degree that was taught in English
- Passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider – this must be to level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale, or
- Being from one of the following countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the British overseas territories, Canada, Dominica,
Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA.
- Have sufficient savings
Applicants must have at least £1,270 in savings to support themselves on arrival in the UK. If you are currently in the UK and have been for at least 12 months, you will not need to meet this requirement.
High Potential visa (HPI) application process
The application process for the HPI visa requires a number of steps to be completed, as follows:
Step 1) Apply to Ecctis to have your qualification checked – the fee for this is £210 (or £252 if you are currently in the UK). As part of this process, you will need to provide the following documents to Ecctis:
- Final certificate(s) in the original language
- Official Transcript(s) in the original language
- Certified translations of documents, if not in English
- Passport / Photo ID
Once Ecctis have confirmed your qualification is suitable, you can move to the next step.
Step 2) Complete the online HPI visa application form – you will also need to pay the HPI visa application fee of £715 and the healthcare surcharge fee of £1,248 (for 2 years) or £1,872 (for 3 years). Note the immigration health surcharge is a mandatory part of the visa application.
Step 3) Prove your identity – this is either done by attending an appointment at your nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC) or by using the UK Immigration: ID Check’ app. When you apply, you will be told how you can prove your identity.
Step 4) Provide your documents/evidence – the Home Office will provide you with a list of documents you will need to provide. These can be uploaded as part of your online application.
Most HPI applications made outside the UK take around 3 weeks to process from when you have proven your identity and provided your documents to the Home Office. If you apply within the UK, this can take up to 8 weeks. If the Home Office request more information or documents, your application may take a little longer.
If you are planning to bring your spouse/partner and children with you to the UK, they will each need to complete their own application form. To link their case to yours, they will need to include the reference number used on your application. The application form your family members will need to complete depends on whether they are your partner or child. If their visa is granted, it will normally have the same expiry date as your HPI visa.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with work visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!