High Potential Individual Visa Requirements and University List

Personal Immigration
· 09 Jul 2024
· 12 mins read
Author: Jay Moghal
The High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa provides a special opportunity for recent graduates from globally recognised universities to live and work in the UK.
High Potential Individual (HPI) visa requirments

Table of Contents

Personal Immigration
· 09 Jul 2024
· 12 mins read
Author: Jay Moghal

What is the High Potential Individual Visa?

The High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa provides a special opportunity for recent graduates from globally recognised universities to live and work in the UK. This visa is designed for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional promise in their academic pursuits and are ready to contribute to innovation within their professional fields.

To be eligible for the HPI visa, you must have graduated from an institution on the approved global universities list within the last five years. This includes those with bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees. Importantly, the visa does not require a job offer, giving holders the freedom to seek employment, become self-employed, or explore opportunities upon arrival in the UK.

Most graduates can stay in the UK for up to two years under this visa, while those with PhDs or equivalent doctoral-level qualifications can stay for three years. Although the HPI visa itself does not lead directly to permanent residency, it does offer the possibility to transition to other visa categories, such as the Skilled Worker visa, which can eventually lead to settlement.

This visa also allows for dependent family inclusion, enabling partners and dependent children to live in the UK, provided they meet the necessary eligibility criteria. This feature makes the HPI visa an attractive option for talented individuals seeking to advance their careers in the UK without immediate constraints.

Eligibility Criteria

As the name suggests, the High Potential Individual Visa is aimed at attracting top-tier talent globally. To be eligible, candidates must ensure to meet the below listed requirements:

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
  • They must have earned a degree-level qualification within the past five years from an institution listed on the UK’s Global Universities List.
  • A minimum IELTS score of 4.0 is required, which indicates a satisfactory level of English proficiency at CEFR Level B1.
  • Applicants need to show they have enough money to support themselves without needing public assistance.
  • If the applicant comes from a high-risk country, they must provide a valid certificate of tuberculosis test.
  • No prior visa under the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme, as a Graduate or as a High Potential Individual. 
  • Depending on the applicant’s country of origin, police registration might be necessary.
  • Standard suitability checks for criminality and previous immigration law violations apply. 
High Potential Individual visa university lists

Academic Requirements

In order to qualify for the High Potential Individual Visa, candidates must hold an academic degree that satisfies the Home Office’s specified requirements.

  1. You must have a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree awarded by an institution on the Home Office’s Global Universities List.

This includes universities ranked in the top 50 by at least two of the following ranking systems:

  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings
  • Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings
  • The Academic Ranking of World Universities
  1. The degree must have been awarded within the past five years from the visa application date.
  1. Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) must confirm that the overseas qualification is equivalent to or exceeds the standard of a recognised UK bachelor’s or UK postgraduate degree and will verify the date the degree was awarded.

Qualifying Universities for the High Potential Individual Visa

The High Potential Individual Visa extends to graduates from a diverse array of top universities worldwide. The list of eligible institutions is subject to annual review and updates to reflect global educational standings. Therefore, prospective applicants must regularly check the official UK government site, particularly the gov.uk platform, for the most current information.

For the academic year running from 1st November 2023 to 31st October 2024, the qualifying universities have been designated based on their demonstrated excellence in higher education. It is crucial for potential applicants to consult this list to verify their university’s eligibility before applying for the HPI visa.






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Permitted activities under High Potential Individual Visa

The High Potential Individual Visa is designed to enable highly skilled graduates to leverage their qualifications in the UK’s dynamic job market. Holders of this visa enjoy a range of freedoms that facilitate both professional and personal development.

What You Can Do:

  • Employment Opportunities: You can engage in most types of employment, including self-employment, allowing you to explore various career paths or start your own business.
  • Job Searching: You have the liberty to look for suitable employment that matches your skills and ambitions.
  • Family Inclusion: The visa permits you to live in the UK with your partner and children. Dependents can include your spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, and your children under 18—or over 18 if they were dependents at 18 and are still dependent.
  • Volunteering and Travel: Engaging in voluntary work is permitted, and you can travel abroad and return to the UK, offering flexibility in personal and professional pursuits.
  • Study: You are allowed to study, particularly if your course of study isn’t eligible for a student visa, providing opportunities for further education while residing in the UK.

What You Cannot Do:

  • Access to Public Funds: You are not eligible to claim most benefits
  • Professional Sport: The visa does not allow you to work as a professional sportsperson. If your career goals are in this direction, you would need to consider applying for a specific Sportsperson visa.
  • Visa Extension and Settlement: This visa category does not support extensions beyond the initial grant period, nor does it provide a direct pathway to permanent settlement in the UK.

HPI Visa Duration

This visa allows you to stay for up to two years, or three years with a PhD, providing a significant period to contribute professionally in the UK. No job offer is needed to start the application process. 

English Language Requirement for High Potential Visa

High Potential Individual Visa applicants are required to show English language skills at least at Level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), covering reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities. 

You can meet the English language requirement by:

  • Being a national of a majority English-speaking country.
  • Achieving a passing score on a SELT from an approved provider
  • Holding a degree taught in English or having a GCSE, A Level, or Scottish Highers in English, earned while attending school in the UK.
  • Having proof of meeting B1 level in a prior successful UK visa application.

Financial Requirements 

Applicants for the High Potential Individual Visa must demonstrate their financial independence to ensure they can support themselves upon arrival in the UK. 

The key requirements are as follows:

Applicants must show they have access to at least £1,270 in cash funds.

These funds must have been held for at least 28 consecutive days, ending no more than 31 days before submitting the visa application.

However, those who are applying for permission to stay and have already been residing in the UK with valid permission for 12 months or more at the time of application are exempt from showing these funds.

How to Apply for a High Potential Individual Visa

Applying from Outside the UK

To apply for a High Potential Individual visa from outside the UK, begin the process online. First, verify your qualifications with Ecctis, for which the fee is £210. Depending on application instructions, you may need to visit a visa application centre to provide biometrics and receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), or use the UK Immigration ID Check app to scan your identity documents. 

If visiting a visa application centre, your passport may be retained during the process, and travelling to the nearest centre might be necessary. Ensure you meet the financial requirement by having £1,270 in savings, available for at least 28 consecutive days within 31 days prior to applying.

Applying from Inside the UK

If you are already in the UK on another visa, you can switch to a High Potential Individual visa by applying online. However, you cannot switch if you are on a Visit visa, Short-term student visa, Graduate visa, Parent of a Child Student visa, Seasonal worker visa, Domestic worker in a private household visa, or if under immigration bail. 

If your identity was verified for your current visa, you might not need to repeat this step. Your partner and children must apply separately but can do so concurrently with your application.

Essential Documents for HPI Visa Application

  • A valid passport is mandatory to prove your identity and nationality.
  • Proof that you meet the required level of English, which can be an ‘Academic Qualification Level Statement and English Language Proficiency Statement’ if your degree was taught in English.
  • An ‘Academic Qualification Level Statement’ from Ecctis confirming that your university qualification is eligible for the visa.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support your stay in the UK, showing you can meet the financial requirements without accessing public funds.
  • If applicable, tuberculosis test results are required from residents of countries where this is a stipulation.

Additional Documents

  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP): If you’re switching from another visa within the UK, you’ll need your current BRP or online proof of your immigration status.
  • Certified Translations: Any documents not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by certified translations.
  • Proof of Relationships: If your family members are applying with you, provide documents proving your relationship, such as marriage or birth certificates.

Fees and Health Surcharge

The application fee is £822, with Ecctis verification costing £210 from abroad or £252 if inside the UK. The annual health surcharge is £1,035, which covers your access to UK health services.

Transition Options After a High Potential Individual Visa

The High Potential Individual Visa does not allow for direct extensions. However, it does offer pathways for visa holders to transition to other UK immigration routes, enabling them to extend their stay under different conditions. Here are the key aspects of transitioning from a High Potential Individual Visa:

  • Holders of the High Potential Individual Visa cannot extend their visa as is.
  • Before their current leave expires, visa holders can apply to switch to another immigration route within the UK. Each route has specific requirements that must be met. Common options include switching to a Skilled Worker visa, which necessitates a job offer from a licensed sponsor meeting the salary and skill requirements.

Processing Times for the High-Potential Individual Visa

When applying for the High Potential Individual Visa, the time it takes to receive a decision varies based on where you apply from. 

If you’re applying from outside the UK, you can normally expect a decision within three weeks. For applications submitted from within the UK, the typical processing time extends to about eight weeks.

There are several factors that might prolong the processing period. If your supporting documents require additional verification, this could delay the decision. Similarly, if you are requested to attend an interview or if there are particular personal circumstances, such as a criminal conviction, these could also impact the time it takes to process your application. Being prepared for these possibilities can help manage expectations and plan accordingly.


How are the top-ranking universities chosen each year?

Institutions qualify for the global universities list if they rank within the top 50 in at least two of the following prominent international university ranking systems: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings, or the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

How long does it take to get the HPI visa?

The processing time for an HPI visa typically ranges from three to eight weeks after you complete your application and verify your identity. Applicants outside the UK might experience slightly longer processing times compared to those within the UK.

How much does the HPI visa cost?

Applying for the HPI visa involves several fees. The Ecctis verification costs £210 if applying from outside the UK and £252 if inside. The HPI visa application itself costs £822. Additionally, there is an annual immigration healthcare surcharge of £1035.

How long is the HPI visa valid?

The HPI visa lasts for two years for most holders but extends to three years for those with PhDs or similar doctoral qualifications. While the HPI visa cannot be extended, you may have the option to switch to another visa type, such as a Skilled Worker visa, depending on your situation.

Can you study on the HPI visa?

Studying on the HPI visa is permitted only if your chosen course is not eligible for a student visa. For courses that qualify for a student visa, you must apply for that specific visa type instead.

What is the difference between a High Potential Individual visa and a Graduate visa?

The Graduate visa is designed for individuals who have completed their studies in the UK, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree. In contrast, the High Potential Individual visa is targeted at graduates from universities outside the UK. Both visa types do not require a job offer for eligibility, unlike the Skilled Worker visa, which requires one.

How are universities ranked on the global universities list?

Universities must appear in the top 50 of at least two out of three recognised ranking systems—the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds, or the Academic Ranking of World Universities—to be eligible for the High Potential Individual visa. It is advisable to verify the current year’s rankings to ensure your university is included on the list before applying.

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About the Expert
Jay Moghal
Founder and Managing Director
With over 15 years of immigration law experience at top London firms, Jay Moghal established Rove Legal in 2020 to offer prompt, personalised services without the bureaucratic hurdles associated with larger firms.
+44 (0) 203 146 0900

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