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A new UK visa aims to bring talented graduates to Britain

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Reuters/Yann Tessier
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In the aftermath of Brexit, the UK is grappling with a dwindling talent pool. A new visa program, aimed at recent graduates from the world’s top universities, aims to give British businesses access to an influx of skilled young workers.

What is the High Potential Individual visa?

The UK’s High Potential Individual (HPI) visa will be open to applicants beginning May 30. Introduced as part of a broader post-Brexit government strategy to make the country more globally competitive, the program offers visas to people who completed a degree from a qualifying university outside the UK within the last five years. It’s available to people of any nationality who are at least 18 years of age.

Applicants aren’t required to have a job offer in order to qualify for visas. That’s presumably appealing for UK employers, who will be free to hire HPI visa holders without paying sponsorship fees. After arriving in the UK, visa holders can apply for jobs in any industry.

Which universities are included?

Applicants must have attended a university from the Home Office’s Global University List. Released annually, the list will comprise schools outside the UK that appear in the top 50 on at least two of the following world rankings: 

The schools that appear on world rankings may vary from year to year, but tend include a lot of familiar names, such as Harvard, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US; Canada’s University of Toronto; Peking University and Tsinghua University in China; and the University of Tokyo in Japan. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

People who’ve received their bachelor’s, master’s, or post-doctorate degrees from a qualified school within the past five years also have to meet a few other eligibility requirements. According to the immigration law firm Richmond Chambers, these include:

  • An English language requirement, which involves showing that you either come from a majority-English-speaking country or that you’ve passed a test or received a degree demonstrating your English language ability
  • A financial requirement, which asks that applicants have at least £1,270 available in cash

How long can you stay in the UK with an HPI visa?

If you have a PhD from a qualifying university, your HPI visa is good for three years, according to Richmond Chambers. Those with bachelor’s or master’s degrees can stay for up to two years. The UK government said in a statement that people who are granted HPI visas “will be permitted to move into other long-term employment routes,” leaving the door open to their settling down in the UK.

How is the HPI visa different from graduate visas?

The key difference between the HPI visa and the UK graduate visa is that the first is available specifically to graduates of schools outside the UK. The UK graduate visa allows people who’ve completed a degree within the UK to stay for at least two years after graduating.

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