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Opens 30th May 2022


The UK’s new High Potential Individual Visa is for recent graduates of top 50 global universities.


The High Potential Individual Visa allows holders to look for work, to work without sponsorship, or to set up a business. 


 The High Potential Individual Visa will be granted for 2 years (3years for PhDs and other Doctorates).  


Qualifying for a High Potential Individual Visa

  • Graduate of Global Top 50 university

  • Meet English Language requirement

  • Meet Financial requirement

  • Lots of freedom, and no need for sponsorship, if you qualify

In order to qualify for a High Potential Individual Visa, the main requirement is having a degree, awarded in the last 5 years, from a Top 50 university (see our separate guide).  The other requirements, other than visa history, are unlikely to be difficult hurdles to clear.  The main ones are:

  • If your degree was not taught in English, you will need to show English language skills at IELTS 4.0 / CEFR B1 level.

  • You will need enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds.  This will be £1,270 for a single person (adding a partner increases the requirement by £285; with Children it is  £315 for the first child, £200 for each additional child).  The finances requirement is waived if you (and, if relevant, dependants) have already lived in the UK for the 12 months before applying.  You will need bank statements, dated within 31 days of the day of application, showing you have held the money each day for the prior 28 days (a single day of going below the threshold means the 28 days have to start again).


You also need to be 18+ years old (graduates who are not yet 18, but are so exceptional, I am sure we can find another way for them to get to the UK: call us for a consultation).    And have a valid TB certificate if coming from some countries.


The High Potential Individual Visa is not available to those who have previously been granted a visa/leave as a Graduate. Or under the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme.  The visa can only be granted once: so, once approved, you can't make a second High Potential Individual visa application, because the intention is that during those 2 (or 3) years in the UK as a High Potential Individual, you will be eligible for another type of visa.


Call us to review your eligibility and the proof that will be needed for an application.

Dependants of High Potential Individuals  

High Potential Individual Visa holders can be accompanied, or joined by a dependant partner  (either a spouse, or someone who has cohabited for 2+ years in a relationship akin to marriage) and dependant children under the age of 18.

Settlement for High Potential Individuals  

The High Potential Individual Visa will be granted for 2 years (3years for PhDs and other Doctorates).   It will not take holders to settlement.  Although the 2 (or 3) years spent on a High Potential Individual Visa can count towards the 10 year long residence route to settlement, most visa holders are likely to switch into a skilled/highly skilled Points Based visa which allows settlement after 5 years.

Top 50 Global Universities List

The Home Office will compile, on an annual basis, a list of qualifying Global Universities.  It will consist of those ranked in the top 50 by at least two of:


  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings!/page/0/length/25/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats

  • Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings;

  • The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Proof that you qualify will need to be obtained from who will confirm


  • That your qualification meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a UK bachelor’s or UK postgraduate degree. 

  • The date when you were awarded your degree.


If you are an international student who has completed an eligible UK degree then you may qualify for the UK Graduate visa route. 

English Language proof


To meet the High Potential Individual Visa English Language requirement, you can


  • Be a national of a majority English-speaking country, or

  • Have been awarded a degree taught in English, or

  • Have already proved that you met the requirement (at CEFR B1, or better) , in a previous successful UK Visa/extension application, or

  • Have obtained a GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK


If you don’t already meet the requirement in one of the above ways, the final option is to have passed a Secure English Language Test at the required level. Unless you already have such a test pass to hand, this will mean sitting a test. The test must accord with the

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening), and must be at least at level B1 (intermediate).  This is equivalent to IELTS Level 4.


If you don’t already have proof of English Language skills, we can help book a test for you.  Most graduates looking to live in the UK will already have suitable skills, so it is likely to be a matter of obtaining the documents to prove what is already obvious.  If you don’t yet have a great command of English, you may wish to study before taking the test.

Restrictions on High Potential Individuals in the UK


The restrictions on High Potential Individual Visa holders are minimal, other than a general requirement to obey UK laws (just as locals have to), your limitations are


  • No access to public funds (this does not prevent you or your accompanying dependants using state education or healthcare)

  • No work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach

  • No study that meets the requirements for a Student visa (you can do other courses of study, but, if you are in the sort of full time course that would make you eligible for a Student visa, then the Home Office want you to get a Student visa).

Switching to a High Potential Individual Visa


If you are already in the UK, other than as a visitor, you can probably switch into a High Potential Individual Visa (as long as you meet the conditions).  Other than Visitors, switching into this route is prohibited only for those in the UK as

  • Short-term students,

  • Parent of a Child Student,

  • Seasonal Worker,

  • Domestic Worker in a Private Household

  • Outside the Immigration Rules.

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