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What is the High Potential Individual (“HPI”) Visa?

12 June 2022
What is the High Potential Individual (“HPI”) Visa?

The High Potential Individual (“HPI”) visa is one of several new immigration routes introduced by the Home Office this year. It is designed to attract “the brightest and best” to the UK, the HPI visa appears to form part of the Government’s wider plan to deliver an ‘elite points-based system’, as announced in their ‘Build Back Better: Plan for Growth’, to ensure the UK maintains its status as a “leading international hub for emerging and disruptive technologies”. In this post, we look at What is the High Potential Individual (“HPI”) Visa?

An Overview of HPI

To be eligible for the HPI visa, applicants will need to show that within the last five years, they have been awarded an overseas degree-level academic qualification from an institution on the ‘Global Universities List’.  Separate lists have now been published for each of the last five academic years, to enable applicants to determine whether they’re university-qualified at the time they graduated. They include overseas universities that have been ranked in the top 50 on at least two of the following global ranking systems in the relevant year:

(i) Times Higher Education World University Rankings;
(ii) Quacquerelli Symonds World University Rankings; or
(iii) The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

In addition to this, applicants will need to meet the usual English language requirement, and be able to show that they have sufficient funds to maintain themselves while in the UK.

Successful bachelor’s and master’s degree applicants will be granted two years of permission in the UK, while Ph.D. graduates will be granted three years.  Before the expiry of their visa, applicants will either need to leave the UK or have switched to another visa route.

On the HPI visa, applicants will also be able to bring dependent partners and children under the age of 18.

The HPI route appears to be the global equivalent of the Graduate visa, which was introduced in July 2021 for applicants graduating within the UK, from a Home Office-approved higher education provider.  Applicants applying for the Graduate visa must apply from within the UK and must be switching from a Student or Tier 4 (General) Student visa.

They must also have successfully completed their course by the date of application. The Graduate visa is also not limited to those graduating from universities that are top-ranked in the UK.

What will the launch of HPI mean to businesses?

In many ways, the HPI route is a welcome addition to the UK’s current array of visa offerings.

With no need for sponsorship, the HPI visa offers applicants the flexibility to work, study or be self-employed in the UK, as they wish. In this respect, the HPI visa sits alongside the Global Talent and Graduate visas as a rare route allowing applicants the flexibility to do as they please for up to two (or three) years.

However, as with many of the new visa categories launched in the last 12 months, the HPI visa is not a route that leads to settlement. This means that any time spent on this visa cannot be used to count towards the qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain, and will ultimately add further costs to what is already a very expensive journey for individuals looking to settle in the UK.

How to apply for the High Potential Individual Visa

An individual will need to apply online, submit a number of supporting documents and pay the relevant fee (£715 as of 31 May 2022). They will also need to attend a biometrics appointment.


The number of potential applicants under the HPI route will likely be significantly reduced by the requirement to have graduated within the last five years. Under the UK’s previous MBA visa scheme, the simple fact of having graduated from one of the top 50 MBA schools(in either the UK or abroad) was considered a significant enough achievement to enable applicants to qualify for a visa, and potentially settlement in the future – provided the educational establishment was on the Home Office list of approved institutions at the time the MBA was awarded.

It remains to be seen whether the HPI route will invite an influx of applications from the world’s best and brightest. While this is certainly a welcome addition to the current list of UK visa categories, what is clear is that there is definitely room for improvement.

We hope that you have found this post on What is the High Potential Individual (“HPI”) Visa? useful.  If you have any further questions with regards to HPI, contact one of our business immigration experts today.

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