How the High Potential Individual visa works for top tech graduates

Government opens doors to tech graduates from top universities worldwide in order to stem European brain drain due to Brexit

The government has launched a new two-year visa scheme to attract top international graduates in science, engineering and research.

The new visa route targeting prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale and MIT is designed to ease tech company fears that Britain would be starved of recruitment talent following Brexit.

How the High Potential Individual visa works

Successful High Potential Individual applicants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, regardless of which country they were born in, will get a two-year work visa and will be permitted to bring their families. Those who hold PhDs can apply to stay for three years. The graduates can then switch to other long-term employment visas.

The new High Potential Individual visa route will be open to graduates from the top 50 non-UK universities awarded degrees no more than five years before the date of application. It will be uncapped, so numbers will depend on demand.

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Under previous rules, they would have needed a sponsor with a concrete job offer to get a work visa, to have met required salary levels and show they were not taking a post that could be filled by a British worker.

Eligible universities must appear in the top 50 rankings of at least two of either the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the QS World University Rankings or the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

  • California Institute of Technology, USA
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Columbia University, USA
  • Cornell University, USA
  • Duke University, USA
  • Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Harvard University, USA
  • Johns Hopkins University, USA
  • Karolinska Institute, Sweden
  • Kyoto University, Japan
  • Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • McGill University, Canada
  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • National University of Singapore
  • New York University, USA
  • Northwestern University, USA
  • Paris Sciences et Lettres University, France
  • Peking University, China
  • Princeton University, USA
  • Stanford University, USA
  • Tsinghua University, China
  • University of British Columbia, Canada
  • University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  • University of California San Diego, USA
  • University of Chicago, USA
  • University of Hong Kong
  • University of Melbourne, Australia
  • University of Michigan, USA
  • University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • University of Texas at Austin, USA
  • University of Tokyo, Japan
  • University of Toronto, Canada
  • University of Washington, USA
  • Yale University, USA

The visa will cost £715 and is subject to the immigration health surcharge, a sum that successful visa or immigration applicants pay, which allows the use of the NHS. Anyone applying for the visa must have maintenance funds of at least £1,270.

The government also stipulates that candidates must pass a security and criminality check, and be able to speak, read, listen and write English to at least the B1 intermediate level.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak enthused about such a scheme last September.

Mr Sunak said today: “This new visa offer means that the UK can continue to attract the best and brightest from across the globe. The route means that the UK will grow as a leading international hub for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

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“We want the businesses of tomorrow to be built here today – which is why I call on students to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to forge their careers here.

“The UK is already home to some of the most ground-breaking start-ups, on the forefront of R&D and an incredibly diverse and exciting place to live – come and join in.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel added: “With record levels of investment into its research base, as well as being home to world-leading tech companies and four of the world’s top universities, the UK offers unique opportunities for recent graduates.”

The visa forms part of a series of changes to the immigration system after leaving the EU.

The Global Business Mobility route opened on 11 April to simplify and improve various routes to enable businesses to expand.

Later this year, the Scale-up visa route will follow to support businesses recruiting talent by enabling them to bring employees to the UK.

Further reading

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