Launch of new graduate visa route

Today sees the launch of the Government’s High Potential Individual visa, which gives successful applicants at least two years’ permission to stay and work in the UK.  The accompanying press release states that "From engineering to cyber security to advanced medical research, the UK will be able to welcome talented individuals to drive both economic growth as well as technological and medical advances. The race to attract the brightest and best international talent is fierce and inviting talented individuals from international universities will complement the pool of high achieving graduates from UK universities".

The High Potential Individual route is available to international graduates from an eligible university who have been awarded an overseas degree-level academic qualification that is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree.  The qualification must have been awarded within a five year period prior to the date of the application.  The list of eligible universities is compiled from those non-UK universities which are included in the top 50 of at least two of three specified ranking systems (Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities).  Some commentators have expressed disappointment that the list does not include any institutions from Africa or Latin America, for example.

An HPI visa normally lasts two years, but a three year visa is available to applicants with a PhD or other doctoral qualification.  The HPI visa cannot be extended, though individuals with an HPI visa may be able to switch to a different visa category if they meet the relevant criteria.

HPI visa holders are required to meet further conditions - for example, they are not permitted to study on a course which is eligible for a “Student” category visa.  Work and other types of study are permitted, subject to conditions.

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