High Potential Individual Visa UK

Non-British or Irish nationals who hold a degree qualification from an eligible prestigious global university may be able to work in the UK without a job offer with a High Potential Individual visa.

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    Irish nationals, or people with indefinite leave to remain or settled status, do not need a visa to live and work in the UK. However, non-British or Irish citizens, including EEA or Swiss nationals who were not residents in the UK before 2021, must have a visa.

    Individuals who have been awarded a degree from a top global university within the last five years may be eligible to work in the UK with a High Potential Individual (HPI) visa without needing a job offer. This visa aims to attract top global graduates to the UK, is typically valid for two or three years, and allows you to bring your partner or dependent children.

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    Eligibility Criteria for a High Potential Individual Visa

    Most importantly, for an HPI visa, you must have a qualification from an eligible university from the previous five years before the date of your visa application. These global universities are based on the top 50 rankings from around the world the year you received your qualification.

    Examples from the global universities list from the 2019 to 2024 include:

    • British Columbia Canada University
    • University of Hong Kong
    • Singapore National University
    • Tokyo Japan University
    • San Diego USA University
    • Toronto Canada University
    • Pennsylvania USA University
    • Washington USA Yale University
    • Berkeley USA University
    • Melbourne Australia University

    The eligible global universities list from 2019 to 2024 is on the UK government website.

    You must have a qualification equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, UK postgraduate degree, or UK PhD or doctoral level qualification.

    Separate eligibility criteria include a sufficient knowledge of English and sufficient funds to support yourself.

    Knowledge of English

    Unless you have proven your English for a previous UK visa, you will need to prove you can read, write and speak at least level B1 English. This can be shown with:

    • A Secure English Language Test (SELT)
    • A GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English from a UK school from before you were under 18 years old
    • A degree-level qualification taught in English

    You do not need to prove your English language if you are a national of a majority English-speaking country or from the exempt list of countries or territories.

    How to Apply for a High Potential Individual Visa

    You must apply for an HPI visa online, though the process is different depending on whether you are applying from outside the UK or if you are already in the UK and switching from a different visa.

    Before applying, you will need Ecctis to check if your qualification is valid. After, if you are outside the UK, you will need to:

    • Submit your application and supporting documents on the online application platform
    • Have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre or use the UK Immigration: ID Check to scan your identity document

    When submitting your application, you will be told if you need to have an interview at an application centre.

    If you are inside the UK on a different visa, you may be able to switch to an HPI visa from your current visa. If you’re in the UK with a Student visa, you must have finished your current course or studied for a PhD for at least two years.

    You won’t be able to switch to this visa if you are in the UK with a Visit visa, Short-term Study visa, Graduate visa, Parent of a Child Student visa, Seasonal Worker visa, or Domestic Worker visa. You cannot switch if you are on immigration bail or have permission to stay outside of the usual immigration rules.

    Documents Required for a High Potential Individual Visa

    Once Ecctis has confirmed the validity of your qualification, you will need to provide:

    • A valid passport (or other travel document proving your identity and nationality)
    • Your biometric residence permit
    • Proof of your level of English
    • The statement sent to you from Ecctis confirming your qualification
    • A tuberculosis certificate if you have been in a listed country for more than six months in the last six months; note that if you have been living in Ireland, you do not require a tuberculosis test
    • Proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’re applying as dependents

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      Duration of the High Potential Individual Visa

      The amount of time you can stay in the UK depends on the qualification you received from the global university on the UK government list.

      If you received a PhD or other doctoral level qualification, you can stay for three years. If you received any other degree qualification, an HPI visa will be valid for two years.

      High Potential Individual Visa Restrictions

      The HPI visa will allow you to work in most jobs, look for employment, be self-employed, live in the UK with your partner and children, do voluntary work, and travel to and from the UK.

      You will also be able to study, as long as it isn’t a course that would meet the requirements of the UK Student visa.

      You will not be allowed to apply for most benefits or state pension, work as a professional sportsperson, extend your HPI visa, or apply to settle permanently in the UK.

      Dependents on a High Potential Individual Visa

      Your partner and children can apply to stay with you in the UK provided they meet the eligibility requirements. Their visa will be valid for the same amount of time as yours.

      To be eligible as a dependent, they must either be your:

      • Husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner of at least two years
      • Child under 18 years old
      • Child over 18 years old as long as they’re already in the UK as your dependent

      When applying, your partner and child must prove they can support themselves or be supported while they’re in the UK. You, or your partner, will need to have £285 in your bank account to show you can support your partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child.

      Your family members will also need to pay a healthcare surcharge. This is £1,035 for a partner and £776 for each child under 18 years old.


      When applying, you (and any dependents) must pay the application fee and the healthcare surcharge and prove you have enough personal savings.

      These costs include:

      • £210 to have your qualification checked (£252 when applying from inside the UK)
      • £822 for the application fee
      • £1,035 per year you’re in the UK for yourself and another £1,035 for a partner and £776 per child for the healthcare surcharge
      • £1,270 that has been in your bank account for 28 consecutive days in the last 31 days to show you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK, and any additional funds if you’re including dependents

      If you are switching from another UK visa and have been in the UK for 12 months already at the point of your application, you will not need to show that you meet the financial requirement.

      Let us compile your application and take care of the submission for your UK HPI visa. Contact Us

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        Processing Time

        Typically, once you have provided your personal details and documents, it can take three weeks to receive a decision if you apply from outside the UK and eight weeks if you apply from inside the UK.

        These times can be longer if you need an appointment to confirm your details.

        Person wearing graduate's gown, holding out a scroll

        How Can Total Law Help?

        If you have recently graduated from a prestigious global university, you may be exploring your options and considering immigrating to the UK to work with an HPI visa.

        It can be overwhelming working out whether you are eligible for a UK visa, and you may be concerned about incorrectly completing your visa application and losing money if your visa is rejected.

        Speaking to an immigration expert at Total Law can maximise your chances of having your UK visa accepted, as your legal advisor can check your application is correct and answer your questions along the way.

        For further information on how Total Law can support your visa application, call us on +353 061 518 025 or contact us online.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  You can only study if your chosen course is not eligible for a Student visa.

                  You cannot apply for settlement if you are in the UK with an HPI visa route; however, you may be able to apply to settle if you switch to an immigration route that does lead to settlement. You will need to meet all the eligibility requirements of the immigration route you wish to switch to.