High Potential Individual visa: a new route to work in the UK opens!

Date posted: 6th June 2022

As you know, the freedom of movement between the UK and the EU has now ended and the UK’s points-based immigration system now in place applies to EU as well as non-EU citizens. Most employers seeking to recruit will know that the majority of new recruits who are not UK citizens will have to establish permission to work in the UK via one of the established routes, such as the Youth Mobility Scheme or via Family Routes, e.g. spousal visas. However, from today, Monday 30th May 2022, the new High Potential Individual (HPI) visa route comes into force.

An HPI visa gives individuals permission to stay in the UK for at least two years if they hold an eligible degree qualification which must be equivalent UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree, or PhD or doctorate, which would allow them to stay for up to three years. Unlike other visas, they do not need to have had a job offer made or accepted to apply. What they must have, however, is to have been awarded a qualification by an eligible university higher education institution listed on the Home Office Global Universities List (see High Potential Individual visa: global universities list 2021) within in the last five years. The individual can check their qualification via Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) to ensure their qualification is valid and at the right level (see Visas and Nationality Services).

Individuals under the HPI visa scheme are not able to extend their HPI visa nor do they have the right to remain indefinitely in the UK, however, they may be able to switch to a different visa, for example a Skilled Worker visa, to follow on from their HPI visa which could, when conditions are met, enable them to remain living and working in the UK.

For information, a Skilled Worker visa enables an individual to stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer; it has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. A Skilled Worker visa can provide the individual with indefinite leave to remain in the UK after five years, subject to meeting the qualifying criteria. However, to employ someone via this route, employers will need a sponsor licence (if they do not already have one) and the skill and salary thresholds that apply for a job to be eligible for sponsorship must be met.

For the HPI via route, however, the individual can undertake employment or self-employment in the UK at any skill level; and there is no requirement for sponsorship. This is good news for employers who may be facing a skills shortage in their sector or industry!

For further information on this, or any other HR or employee relations matter, please contact Kingswood Group on 01245 204450 or email enquiries@kingswoodgroup.org


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