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High Potential Individual Visa

The High Potential Individual Visa is available to those who have gained a qualification from an approved university within the past five years and wish to work in the UK for up to three years.

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    What is the High Potential Individual Visa?

    The High Potential Individual Visa has been designed to attract well qualified graduates from around the world and help boost skills in the UK.

    To qualify, applicants must have a completed a degree level academic qualification or been awarded a PhD or other other doctoral level qualification from a prestigious university.

    You do not need to have a job offer to apply for the High Potential Individual Visa and you may stay in the UK for up to three years depending on the exact nature of your academic qualification.

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    What am I Allowed to do with a High Potential Individual Visa?

    Holders of the High Potential Individual visa are able to do the following while staying in the UK:

    • Take on most paid roles
    • Look for employment
    • Self employment
    • Live in the UK with your partner and children
    • Do voluntary work
    • Travel abroad and return to the UK

    You are not permitted to:

    • Apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
    • Work as a professional sportsperson
    • Extend your High Potential Individual visa
    • Apply to settle permanently in the UK

    What is the Eligibility Criteria for a High Potential Individual Visa?

    Only those who have been awarded qualifications from eligible global universities will be granted a High Potential Individual Visa and you must have been awarded the qualifying qualification within the past five years.

    It is important to double-check that your qualification was successfully completed during the correct period and that the institution awarding your degree was on the global universities list at the time that you graduated.

    Also, the qualification you received must be at the same level as any one of the following:

    • a UK bachelor’s degree
    • a UK postgraduate degree
    • a UK PhD or doctoral level qualification

    If you are unsure if the degree taught is eligible you are advised to seek advice before starting the application process. Otherwise, your application could be refused and have a long-term impact on your future immigration status.

    As well as having a qualifying university degree level academic qualification, you must also provide evidence of the following:

    • A qualifying knowledge of English language ability
    • Enough personal savings to support yourself during your time in the UK – although you are exempt if you have already been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months

    You will not be eligible for a High Potential Individual Visa if you have already been given a Graduate Visa in the past, have been part of the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme student or already been a holder of a High Potential Individual visa.

    What level of English is needed for the High Potential Individual visa?

    Part of the High Potential Investment visa is to show that you met the English language requirement and have a good knowledge of the English language. You must be able to show your knowledge is equal to a B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

    The Home Office will accept any of the following as prove of your English language skills:

    • You can prove your knowledge of English for the HPI visa by doing any of the following:
    •  Gaining a pass in a Secure English Language Test (SELT) via an approved provider
    • A GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, which was gained through study at a UK school while you were under 18 years of age
    • A degree-level academic qualification or degree that was predominately taught in English

    You may be exempt from the English language ability skills if you from a country that is classed as a majority English speaking country – for example New Zealand, Canada or Barbados.

    What documents are required for the High Potential Individual Visa?

    When applying for a High Potential Individual Visa you will need to provide supporting documents alongside your application fee.

    These will include:

    • A valid passport or other travel document that shows your identity and nationality
    • Proof of your knowledge of English
    • A statement from Ecctis verifying they’ve your qualification is eligible and at least equal to a UK degree or UK postgraduate degree
    •  If your qualification was taught in English then you will need to provide an Academic Qualification Level Statement and English Language Proficiency Statement, also referred to as a Academic Qualification Level Statement
    • Your biometric residence permit (BRP) or online proof of your immigration status, if you’re switching to this visa from another visa
    • Proof of your relationship with dependents applying with you
    • A negative tuberculosis test result depending on your national country

    All supporting documents must be provided in English or Welsh otherwise you will need to provide a certified translation copy to the Home Office.

    How to apply for a High Potential Individual Visa?

    The way to apply for the High Potential Individual visa depends on whether you are outside the UK or already in the UK and planning to switch from another visa route.

    If you are currently resident outside of the UK then you must use the online immigration route. As part of the process you will need to prove your identity either by having your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to receive a biometric residence permit) or using the UK Immigration: ID Check app to scan your identity documents.

    If you are already in the UK on a different visa then you may be able to switch to a High Potential Individual visa without having to leave the country.

    You are not able to switch from a High Potential Individual visa if you are currently in the UK on any of the following visa routes:

    • Visit visa
    • Short-term student visa
    • Graduate visa
    • Parent of a Child Student visa
    • Seasonal worker visa
    • Domestic worker in a private household visa

    In addition, your application for a High Potential Individual visa will be refused if you are currently on immigration bail or you were given permission to stay outside the immigration rules, such as on compassionate grounds.

    Furthermore, if you plan to switch to this visa from a Student visa, one of the following must apply to you:

    • The start date of your job is after the completion date of your course
    • You’ve been studying for a PhD for at least 24 months

    If you do apply for a High Potential Individual visa while in the UK you must not leave the country while you are awaiting your visa decision otherwise your application will be cancelled.

    Cost of applying for a High Potential Individual Visa

    There are significant costs involved in applying for a High Potential Individual Visa so it is advisable to seek professional advice to avoid any unnecessary delays or costs.

    As well as the application fee of £715, you will need to pay £210 (£252 if applying from inside the UK) for Ecctis to verify your qualification as well as the annual immigration health surcharge of £624.

    The Home Office also have a financial requirement for the visa which means you will need to have at least £1,270 of personal savings to support yourself. You will need to provide proof of funds unless you have been living in the UK for at least 12 months.

    High Potential Individual Visa Timescales

    When applying from overseas you should receive your visa decision within three weeks – assuming that there are no problems with your documents. If you are applying from within the UK then it could take up to eight weeks for your application to be processed.

    If you’re eligible you can choose the ‘priority service’ when you apply. It costs £500 in addition to the application fee but your application can be processed within five working days.

    In some circumstances you may be able to make use of the ‘super priority service’ when you apply. It costs £800 in addition to the application fee and a decision is made by the end of the next working day.

    If Your Application is Refused

    If your application for a High Potential Individual visa is refused you will be sent details of why it was not approved.

    It is possible to appeal the decision – although you may want to seek advice from a immigration specialist before doing so as it can be a detailed and complex process.

    How Can We Help?

    Our immigration lawyers in London offer professional and confidential help for all your UK immigration needs.

    As a part of our services, we offer:

    • UK visa application guidance and eligibility check;
    • Comprehensive advice on filling your application forms;
    • Liaison with the Home Office until your case is solved;
    • Immediate help for those who are facing problems with coming to or staying in the UK;
    • Support with any application for entry clearance, leave to enter or remain, or residence permits;
    • Dedicated immigration advice services for those who wish to apply for British citizenship.

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              Frequently Asked Questions

              A High Potential Individual visa usually lasts for 2 years. If you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification, it will last for 3 years.

              Once you’ve applied for the High Potential Individual Visa, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within three weeks if you apply from outside the UK and within eight weeks if you are living in the UK already.

              Your partner and children can apply to join you or to stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible.

              Dependent family members include:

              • husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner
              • children under the age of 18 – including children who were born in the UK during the visa holder’s time in the UK
              • children over the age of 18 living in the UK who are dependent on the Skilled Worker visa holder


              You must have been awarded an overseas bachelor’s or postgraduate degree qualification in the last 5 years from a top global university and you must have been awarded the degree while the university/college was on the Home Office Global Universities List.