In response to high skilled labor shortages, the UK has announced a program aimed at attracting the “best and brightest” from around the world.

Under the new scheme, alumni of top non-UK universities who have graduated within the past five years can apply for the streamlined High Potential Individual (HPI) visa and have their cases adjudicated within a few weeks.

Other key features include:

  • The HPI visa is good for two years, three if the individual has a doctoral degree.
  • There is no extension of the HPI visa, but beneficiaries will be eligible for other, more permanent statuses in the UK.
  • The beneficiary’s partner and children can join the beneficiary in the UK.
  • There is no job offer requirement; individuals with the HPI visa can work in most jobs, look for work, be self-employed, or even volunteer.

The current list of about 40 eligible universities includes 20 in the United States:

  • California Institute of Technology
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California at Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Washington
  • Yale University

The UK is one of many countries that are expected to be increasingly hard hit by a dearth of high skilled workers. The UK has been having trouble attracting talent from the EU due to new immigration issues caused by Brexit. It is trying a new HPI visa option that might make things worse in the United States. Countries such as Canada have established pathways to attract high skilled workers from abroad. In the United States, there is also a need to attract and retain high skilled workers. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would help companies in the United States compete for top talent. It is unclear whether the Senate will pass similar legislation. Meanwhile, companies try to offer more benefits to attract top talent, while continuing to await much-needed government action.