Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Alex Wright tells HRNews about the High Potential Individual visa in force from 30 May 2022


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    In a week’s time, on 30 May, a new immigration route will be launched, the High Potential Individual route. It’s a non-sponsored work visa open to those who have graduated from a top global non-UK university in the 5 years preceding their application. Along with the existing Graduate and Youth Mobility routes it spells  welcome news for employers wanting to bring in new staff without sponsorship. 

    So let’s take a look at this with help from one of our immigration lawyers, Alex Wright. Alex joined me from Manchester by video-link to discuss the various options. I started by asking him to explain the High Potential Individual route:

    Alex Wright: “So the High Potential Individual route is a new immigration route that's launching at the end of the month. It is designed for graduates of some of the top global universities to help get them into the UK. It's a non-sponsored route so the idea is it’s a bit easier, employees have less administration and there's a bit more certainty to you being able to come into the UK. So as long as you're on the list, and you've got a qualifying English test, or you've done your degree in the English language, and you've got sufficient funds to support yourself, it's got to be a really nice, easy visa for a lot of employers.”

    Joe Glavina: “Tell me about these top global non-UK universities, Alex. Is there a list for that?”

    Alex Wright: “Yes. So the Home Office have published this list of Top Global Universities that they've aggregated. So their qualification is it's got to appear on at least two of the three lists of top universities globally and, if it's on that lit, you can sponsor from it. There is a little bit of a bias, there - a huge amount of those universities, I think 20 on that list, are American so it leans very heavily towards Western nations but there are a smattering of universities globally where people will be able to take advantage of this route but, predominantly, it does seem like it's going to benefit those applying from the US and Canada.”

    Joe Glavina: “Just thinking about clients. Alex, how useful do you think it is? So when it launches on the 30 May is it a big thing or is it just a fairly modest change of fairly limited benefit do you think?”

    Alex Wright: “If you're looking at sponsoring somebody for one from one of these universities for a Skilled Worker route or for a Global Business Mobility route, which can be very expensive, this might be a cheaper and quicker option to get that person into the country and then decide if you want to sponsor them long term. The other thing actually it really does give some flexibility for is internships because it’s very difficult to provide internships under the current immigration rules but as this is a fully non-sponsored route, if you're looking to bring someone from one of these universities, a recent graduate of one of these universities, to the UK it could be a really good way to do the kind of placements that you can't normally do for sponsored workers. So something shorter where you don't have to be worried about salary considerations.”

    Joe Glavina: “Final question Alex. Where does the Graduates and Youth Mobility routes fit into this?”

    Alex Wright: “The Graduate route is very similar to the High Potential Individual route. It's also significantly broader. So the Graduate route came in in July of last year and what that does is that offers, depending on the type of degree you've done, either two or three years following your studies in the UK and that's for anyone who's graduated as an international student from a UK university. So as long as you've come here, and you've completed your course, you can pretty much be guaranteed you'll be given that period of time to stay in the UK, try and find a job, maybe set up a business, maybe if you're in a relationship with a British national, you can extend your status based on that. The thing to remember about both Graduate and High Potential Individual is these routes do not lead to settlement in and of themselves. You don't do your two or three years on that and then settle in the UK so you need to have a mind on what comes next and what type of route you're going to be moving into once that time has done and I think for most people is probably going to be sponsored or skilled work. I think most people are going to come to the UK, find an employer and then stay with them and be sponsored by them but there is scope to do other things as well. There will be scope to set up your own business, potentially. There's also the Youth Mobility Scheme which is a more limited scheme which is for countries where the UK has a historical link with, predominantly, Commonwealth countries where people between 18 to 30 can be granted brief periods of time in the UK, again, for a couple of years, again unsponsored. A lot of people call that the Working Holiday Visa. Again, that tends to be biased more towards Western countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Australia, that's uncapped. There are some countries where there's a ballot, for example Hong Kong and Taiwan, and there are some people have types of British immigration status, for example British Overseas nationals, where that's just completely uncapped. So I think between these three routes what you're seeing is an offering to a very broad number of young people to come to the UK for a couple of years and get themselves established here but I still think the easiest of those three routes is the Graduate Visa. If you are an international student this is going to be a very easy way for you to find your way into the world of work and living longer in the UK.”

    A reminder – the High Potential Individual route opens on 30 May and the government has now published the list of universities which Alex mentioned in that interview – it relates to qualifications awarded between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022. We’ve put a link to that in the transcript of this programme.

    - High Potential Individual visa: global universities list

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