The High Potential Individual (HPI) route went live at 9 o'clock in the morning on 30 May 2022, giving eligible individuals a new short-term immigration option to enter the United Kingdom.
The HPI route is intended to allow recent graduates from top global universities to be able to live and work in the United Kingdom on an unsponsored basis.
It has a similar grant profile to the Graduate route, which offers successful applicants:
- three years' immigration permission if they have a qualification that is equivalent to a UK PhD; or
- two years' immigration permission if they have one that is equivalent to a UK bachelor or master's degree.
An eligible applicant must:
- be aged 18 or over;
- have been awarded an academic qualification that is equivalent to a UK bachelor or master's degree within the five years before the date of application (an Ecctis certificate will be needed to show the equivalence of the degree);
- have received their degree from an institution that is included on the Home Office's global universities list;
- meet an English language requirement at or above Level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages;
- meet a financial requirement of £1,270, unless they are applying in the United Kingdom and have lived in the United Kingdom with immigration permission for at least 12 months before the application;
- hold a valid certificate that certifies that they are free of tuberculosis (if required);
- pay the immigration health surcharge; and
- not previously have been granted immigration permission under the Graduate, Doctorate Extension or HPI schemes.
The global universities list includes all institutions ranked within the top 50 of at least two of the following ranking systems:
- the Times Higher Education World University Rankings;
- the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings; and
- the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
The 2016 to 2021 editions of these lists are used to determine the qualifying universities for a given year. They are updated annually.
For example, the 2021 list covers qualifications awarded between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022. It includes 37 institutions:
- 20 in the United States;
- three in Canada;
- two in:
- Hong Kong;
- Singapore; and
- Switzerland; and
- one in:
- Germany; and
The government has taken a conservative approach to defining the potential pool of eligible applicants and will be monitoring uptake over the coming months. Depending on the initial assessments of the route's effectiveness and whether it is meeting its intended purpose, it is possible that the eligibility criteria for the route may be adjusted over time to include, for example, further universities and/or to expand the ways in which applicants may qualify (eg, through eligible work experience).
It is possible for applications to be made either from abroad or from within the United Kingdom, provided that the applicant is not in the United Kingdom as a visitor with other limited (mostly short-term) immigration statuses.
Applications by partner and child dependants are allowed.
This route allows employers to avoid the cost and administration of sponsorship. It may prove attractive in some cases as a vehicle for employing individuals who only wish to work in the United Kingdom for a short, fixed period.
The route does not lead to settlement in its own right, and it is not a category under which time can be counted as part of the continuous qualifying period for settlement in any other route. It is, therefore, likely that some eligible applicants may prefer either to bypass the route in favour of one that leads to settlement or will seek to switch into a settlement route as soon as they are eligible.
Employers should be aware that migrants in this route may approach them for sponsorship at some point before their HPI permission is due to expire. Sponsored options include the Skilled Worker route and the Scale-up route, the latter of which will be available from 22 August 2022 (for further details please see "Government introduces High Potential Individual and Scale-up immigration routes").
When planning a work start date, all applicants should factor in longer than usual processing times (for further details please see "Update on UK immigration processing delays").
For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne, Supinder Singh Sian, Priya Gandhi or Ellen Duguid at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000) or email ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.