From today (30th May 2022), the High Potential Individual visa comes into effect and is expected to bring in some of the world’s most valuable talent to the UK’s workforce. The High Potential Individual route will enable applicants who have graduated from top universities overseas within the past five years to find employment or embark on setting up their own businesses. These routes are welcome news for UK businesses, as they will have more opportunities to recruit and retain top talent from overseas.
Let’s take a closer look at the High Potential Individual visa and what it means for organisations in the UK, particularly the tech industry.
What is a High Potential Individual visa?
The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa is a short-term visa for graduates and individuals who have secured a qualification from one of the top 50 international universities. Candidates must be in the early stages of their careers and have demonstrated potential to benefit the UK workforce. From 30th May 2022, the HPI visa is available to candidates who have graduated from an eligible international university within the past five years, prior to the application, such as Cornell, Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Yale universities.
For applications to be successful, candidates must have their qualifications verified by Ecctis. Applicants are not required to have secured a job offer in order to be considered for the HPI visa. To be eligible for the HPI visa, applicants must:
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- Hold a valid certificate declaring they are free of TB (if required);
- Meet basic English language requirements at Level B1 or above;
- Meet a financial requirement of £1,270;
- Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge;
- Pay £715 for the cost of the visa.
If candidates are successful, they will be given a 2-year work visa, or 3-year visa for those with a PhD, and can then apply for long-term employment visas providing they meet the eligibility criteria.
Visit the gov.uk website for more information on the HPI visa.
What’s the difference between a Graduate visa and a High Potential Individual visa?
The Graduate visa immigration route is available for those who graduated in the UK, whereas the High Potential Individual visa is designed for those with qualifications obtained outside of the UK. Although the routes are very similar, Graduate visa applicants must have a Student visa and have successfully completed their course. High Potential Individuals have five years after the date of their graduation to utilise this route.
There are fewer requirements for High Potential Individuals compared to Graduate visa applicants, which opens more opportunities for candidates and businesses alike. With fewer restrictions for candidates to meet, employers will have more access to the world’s top talent to fill the growing shortage of specialist skills within the UK. The HPI pathway is expected to be a huge source of talent for organisations with a severe shortage of skilled workers.
What does the High Potential Individual visa mean for employers?
Identifying your company skills gap has been a challenge that many organisations have had to try and overcome. However, the lack of digital skills has meant that digital transformation has become increasingly more difficult to implement. A recent report by the Learning & Work Institute found that 92% of organisations agree that digital skills are vital to success, as they encourage growth, innovation and productivity - the three key driving forces to any profitable business.
The UK’s lack of access to basic digital skills, let alone advanced digital skills, has created a crisis for many sectors to navigate. Over the past few years, the digital skills gap has widened and it’s become clear that the tech industry is where the largest skills gap exists, particularly in areas such as app development, coding, data science and geospatial data analysis. According to the Lloyds Bank Essential Digital Skills, approximately 11 million people are digitally disadvantaged and lack the basic skills required to fill these gaps.
However, the High Potential Individual visa could be the answer that businesses are looking for. As part of the government’s bid to entice some of the top talent from across the globe, the High Potential Individual visa UK is designed to create one of the world’s most attractive visa regimes for entrepreneurs and highly skilled candidates. The HPI route will make it as simple as possible for highly skilled international individuals to come to the UK and share their knowledge and skills, in an attempt to help close the gap in the science and technology sectors.
With nearly 5.3 million graduates enrolled at the top 50 eligible universities, even if only a small proportion of people choose to apply for the HPI visa, there is still strong evidence that the pathway will help bridge the skills gap. By enhancing the talent pool of highly skilled candidates, UK businesses can hire high-calibre tech specialists with invaluable basic and advanced skills in the areas that are most affected by the shortage, such as London, Yorkshire and the North of England, without the crippling salary expectations driven by UK candidates.