The road to high-potential individual visas is now open. This is a new visa route, which opened on May 30, 2022 and is designed to attract the most qualified people to come to the UK.
Individuals do not need a job offer or sponsor to apply. Instead, they will be eligible if they graduated from a non-UK university on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) World University List for the relevant period and meet the English language and financial/d ‘maintenance. This visa gives temporary work authorization for a period of 2 years (or 3 years for holders of a doctorate).
What are the eligible university degrees?
UKVI has published the World University List for degrees awarded between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022 (the 2021 List), together with lists for previous relevant academic years – these can be accessed here. Qualifications must have been issued within the 5-year period preceding the date of the visa application to be eligible.
To be eligible for inclusion on the World University List, the non-UK university must appear in at least two of the following university rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings; Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings; The Academic Ranking of World Universities.
The exact number of recognized universities will vary from year to year, but there are 37 universities on the 2021 list. The focus is on North American universities, with 23 of the 37 being American or Canadian universities. The others come from European countries, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and China.
What does this mean for recruitment processes?
You should be aware that job applicants who have obtained a qualification from an eligible university within the previous 5 years are likely to be eligible for a High Potential Individual visa. These applicants will likely qualify for a visa without having to rely on your sponsorship. They could undertake any job, regardless of skill level or salary, as there are no minimum wage requirements.
Therefore, you may wish to review the questions you ask applicants about their eligibility to work in the UK to ensure that you are not unnecessarily excluding them from jobs which they could do without needing a sponsorship.
If people do not realize they are eligible for this type of visa, you can direct them to the UKVI web pages for more information on the visa route. Although you shouldn’t provide immigration advice to job seekers (because immigration advice is regulated), you can point them to information.
How much does the visa cost?
The visa application fee is £715. The applicant must also pay the immigration health surcharge. However, as an employer, you will not have to pay any visa fees and there is no immigration skill fee to pay for this visa.
How can individuals apply?
Individuals must apply online. There are different application processes depending on whether the person is applying from outside the UK or moving from a different visa route from the UK.
Individuals can include their partner and children in their application to join or stay in the UK if eligible.
For more information on how to apply, see UK Government guidelines.