How does the immigration skills charge work?

How does the immigration skills charge work?

The immigration skills charge (ISC) is a fee that an employer may need to pay if they employ an overseas worker under their sponsor licence. Here we explore how does the immigration skills charge work?

When don’t employers need to pay the immigration skills charge?

If a worker has one of the following occupation codes, they will not need to pay the ISC:

  • chemical scientists (2111)
  • biological scientists and biochemists (2112)
  • physical scientists (2113)
  • social and humanities scientists (2114)
  • natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified (2119)
  • research and development managers (2150)
  • higher education teaching professionals (2311)
  • clergy (2444)
  • sports players (3441)
  • sports coaches, instructors, or officials (3442)

Employers also don’t need to pay the ISC if they are employing someone who has switched from a student visa to a working visa.

For those on the Senior or Specialist Worker visa the ISC charge won’t be necessary if they were assigned a certificate of sponsorship after 1st January 2023, are an EU national (or hold a Latvian non-citizen passport), they usually work in the EU but have been temporarily transferred and their visa will last for no longer than 36 months. 

How much is the immigration skills charge?

The cost of the ISC is dependent on the size of the company paying it. Small companies will need to pay £364 for the first 12 months and £182 for each additional 6 months. Whereas larger companies must pay £1,000 for the first 12 months and £500 for each additional 6 months.

A small sponsoring company must have at least two of the following:

  • An annual turnover of £10.2 million or less
  • Total assets worth £5.1 million or less
  • 50 employees or less

We hope that you have found this blog post on ‘How does the immigration skills charge work?’ useful. Should you have any queries regarding the above information or if you require assistance with applying for a sponsor licence or recruiting an overseas workers, contact a member of our team here.

Commonly asked questions about the Innovator Visa

commonly asked questions about the Innovator Visa

Introduced in March 2019, the Innovator visa is one of the latest additions to the UK’s range of immigration options. The Innovator visa is for anyone who wants to set up or run a business in the UK. The business must be ‘innovative’, i.e. something new in the business field. The Innovator visa partly replaced the UK Tier 1 visa (Entrepreneur) route, which is now closed for new applicants. Here, we answer some commonly asked questions about the Innovator Visa.

What are the requirements for the Innovator Visa?

Applicants for the Innovator visa must meet the following criteria:

  • Be aged 18 or over
  • Be a genuine Innovator applicant
  • Want to set up or run a new business in the UK – applicants cannot join a business that is already trading
  • Have a new, innovative and viable business or business idea 
  • Have their business or business idea endorsed by an approved body
  • Have at least £50,000 in investment funds if setting up a new business, or have already invested £50,000 in the UK business (subject to certain exceptions)
  • Meet an English language requirement in speaking, reading, writing and listening – Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
  • Provide proof of enough personal savings to support themselves, and any dependants, while in the UK. There are fixed amounts the applicant will need to be able to show
  • Not be at risk of being refused under the general grounds of refusal, which include, for instance, automatic refusal on the grounds of the previous overstay, deception and/or certain criminal convictions

There are different requirements if the applicant is applying relying on the same business as the business used in a previous endorsement under the Innovator, Start-Up, or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route.

What is the application process for the Innovator Visa?

The Innovator route is a two-stage application process. Applicants will first need to apply for endorsement from an ‘endorsing body’. Once endorsed, they will be able to apply for leave to enter/remain in this category.

Endorsing bodies are on an approved list and are sector-specific. The list can be viewed here.

To obtain an endorsement, applicants must have a business plan, and the endorsing body must be satisfied that they have created or made a significant contribution to that plan. The endorsing body will want to be satisfied that the applicant will be based in the UK and involved in the day-to-day management of the business and implementation of the business plan they put forward. The endorsing body will also want to see that the applicant is either the sole founder of the business, or that they are an instrumental member of the founding team. 

Applicants must be able to prove to an endorsing body that their business idea is:

  • Innovative – the business idea must be genuine and original. It must meet new or existing market needs and/or create a competitive advantage
  • Viable – applicants will need to show they have, or are actively developing the relevant knowledge and skills to carry out the business plan, and that the plan is realistic based on the applicant’s resources
  • Has potential for growth – the business must be scalable. Applicants will need to demonstrate structured planning and potential job creation and growth in to national and international markets

The endorsement letter must be used within three months after the date it has been issued.

Can you apply for the Innovator Visa from within the UK?

Applications can make an application for an Innovator Visa from within the UK, unless the applicant was last granted permission in the UK in any of the following visa routes, or is on immigration bail: 

  • Visitor
  • Short-term student
  • Parent of a child student
  • Seasonal worker
  • Domestic worker in a private household
  • Outside of the Immigration Rules

How much does the application process cost?

Entry clearance costs approximately £1,036 for the main applicant, with the same fee for dependants. In-country applications cost approximately £1,292 for the main applicant, with the same fee for dependants. 

In addition, applicants have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge which is currently approximately £624 per person per year applied for.

How long does the Innovator Visa last for?

The Innovator visa is for three years. Applicants can apply for another three years when their visa is due to expire. There is no limit on the number of times the visa can extend. However, applicants may apply to apply for settlement once they have been in the UK for three years on an Innovator visa.

An innovator visa can be cut short if the endorsing body withdraws its endorsement.

What can’t be done on an Innovator Visa?

Innovators cannot:

  • Work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
  • Work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • Receive public funds

We hope that you have found this post on commonly asked questions about the Innovator Visa useful. Our immigration lawyers have many years of experience in helping our clients get their visas and solve their immigration and legal issues. We’re here to provide advice when it comes to start-up and innovator visas.  Contact us here to find out more about how we can help you with your Innovator Visa application.

What do you have to do to maintain a sponsor licence?

What do you have to do to maintain a sponsor licence?

Businesses that hold a sponsor licence must comply with a number of duties and responsibilities set out by the Home Office, which are set out in the Sponsor Guidance.  If a sponsor fails to comply with the duties set out within the Sponsor Guidance, this can lead to a suspension or revocation of the sponsor licence, and that in turn means that the employment of sponsored workers must cease. But what do you have to do to maintain a sponsor licence?

The Sponsor Guidance is frequently amended and updated, and sponsors should ensure that those responsible for the maintenance of the licence regularly review the latest guidance in order to ensure that the organisation is up to date with its compliance and that any necessary changes regarding the sponsorship of workers are made.

Here, we look at what you have to do to maintain a sponsor license.

The duties of a sponsor

The Home Office’s intention is that sponsors should carry out many of the functions that were previously undertaken by immigration officers. The general aim of the sponsor duties is to ensure that those benefiting from the sponsor licence i.e. sponsors play their part in:

  • preventing abuse of sponsor assessment procedures;
  • capturing patterns of migrant behaviour that cause concern; and
  • monitoring migrant workers compliance with the Immigration Rules.

In order to meet the aims set out above, sponsors are required to adhere to a number of specific duties and these include:

  • notifying UKVI if there are any relevant changes to the sponsoring entity (for example, change of ownership/shareholding/acquisition, change of address, different key personnel, changes in the size of the sponsor (from small to large company, etc.);
  • monitoring the attendance/absences of sponsored workers;
  • reporting any changes to the sponsored worker’s employment;
  • carrying out right-to-work checks;
  • retaining documents as set out in Appendix D of the Sponsor Guidance;
  • complying with the law; and
  • cooperating with the Home Office.

Detailed information on all the duties and how to comply with them is contained in the Sponsor Guidance.

Compliance Visits

Compliance visits can happen before or after a sponsor licence is granted. If the Home Office has any concerns that a sponsor is not capable of complying with its duties, it may visit the sponsor at any time in order to carry out a compliance visit.

During a compliance visit, not only will the Home Office seek to determine that a sponsor is carrying out its duties but will also look into whether the employment that any sponsored worker is carrying out is genuine, whether those that run the organisation are honest and dependable and if the organisation is operating lawfully in the UK.

We hope that you have found this post on ‘What do you have to do to maintain a sponsor licence?’ useful.

Our immigration experts are able to provide advice and guidance in relation to a sponsor’s duties. Contact us here to learn more.

Changes to right-to-work checks

Changes that affect how businesses hire staff came into force on 1 October 2022. In the UK, it is a legal requirement to check a person’s right to work before you employ them, known as right-to-work checks. Here, we explore the latest changes to right-to-work checks.

What are right-to-work checks?

Employers have a legal responsibility to prevent anyone from working illegally by checking the immigration status of successful job applicants. These right-to-work checks form an important part of the onboarding process when hiring new staff for any business in the UK.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government introduced digital right-to-work checks, meaning businesses were still able to continue to hire staff when face-to-face checks were not possible. 

What changes came into force on 1st October?

Changes were introduced in April 2022 to make the digital verification process more secure. And from 1 October 2022, UK businesses wishing to carry out digital checks must:

  • use identity service providers (IDSPs) that offers identity document validation technology (IDVT)
  • keep digital records for two years after an employee exits your business

Many businesses have moved to remote and hybrid working, so the option for secure, digital right-to-work checks is designed to help make the recruitment process more efficient.

IDVT is available for employers to use to conduct digital right-to-work checks for employees who do not fall within the scope of the online service, including British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport. It is not mandatory for employers to use the IDVT and employers would be able to maintain a statutory excuse against a civil penalty if they continue to carry out compliant manual checks for British and Irish citizens. Checks conducted using IDVT must be carried out via an IDSP, and the list of certified IDSPs can be found here.

What does this mean for employers?

These changes mean that employers are no longer allowed to verify ID documents using less secure methods, such as email or video call.

Not complying with the new legislation could result in a £20,000 fine or being banned from sponsoring visas for foreign nationals in the future.

We hope that you have found this post useful. If you’d like to discuss right-to-work checks or other business immigration matters, contact our business immigration experts here.

How long can you stay in the UK on a Business Visa?

In order to visit the UK for business, you need to apply for the Standard Visitor Visa. This is a 6-month visa which you can apply for up to 3 months before you travel. Davenport Solicitors are business immigration experts and are on hand to guide you through the entire UK business visa process.

What is the UK Business Visa?

The UK business visa is a one-time or longer-term visa that allows holders to stay in the UK for up to 6 months at a time. You must apply for this visa if you are visiting the UK for reasons including:

  • Attending a meeting or training
  • Employees of a corporation based in another country are also allowed to engage in the following corporate or intra-corporate activities
  • Share skills and knowledge on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group, providing no work is done directly with clients, advise, consult, troubleshoot, or provide training
  • As an internal auditor for a UK branch of the same group of companies as your employer overseas, conduct regulatory or financial audits.
  • Receive training in work methods and procedures that are essential for the visitor’s employment abroad and are not available in their home country from a UK-based company or organisation.

What can’t you do with a UK Business Visa?

The business visa UK falls under the standard UK visitor visa and, as such, carries many of the same limitations. UK immigration laws are very strict, and it’s important that you have clarity when putting together your visa application.

If you don’t provide sufficient evidence of your eligibility and intent for travelling to the UK, you risk having your application refused by the Home Office, or being turned down by immigration authorities when you arrive.

While it may seem comprehensive, the UK business visitor visa rules have strict limitations on the business duties you can perform during a short-term stay in the UK with the visa.

Some of the things you can’t do with a business visitor visa include:

  • Doing paid or unpaid work during your stay. While there are a lot of business activities you can complete with a standard business visa, you can’t perform gainful employment, whether voluntary or not. If you’re working for an overseas company, you need to know that there’s a strict limitation on the work you can do during a short-term stay in the UK.
  • Live or work in the UK for a long period of time. As a category of the standard UK visitor visa, it has a strict restriction on the amount of time you can spend in the UK.
  • Receive any public funds. While performing a short-term business stay in the UK, you’re not permitted to access any benefits, grants, or bursaries from the UK government.

We hope that you have found this post useful. If you’d like to discuss applying for a business visa, contact our business immigration experts here.

What is the UK Start-Up route and who is it aimed at?

The UK Start-up route is a business immigration visa aimed at individuals who want to set up a business in the UK for the first time. They don’t need to be a graduate or have secured any initial funding in order to apply for the visa. However, you will need to have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea that has been approved by an endorsing body. In this post, we look at what is the UK Start-Up route and who is it aimed at?

What is the UK start-up route?

The Startup Visa is a new visa route in the UK that allows entrepreneurs from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to set up a business in the UK.

The route replaced the previous Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa and is mainly aimed at entrepreneurs looking to establish a business for the first time.

Who is the start-up route aimed at?

The Start-up route is aimed at early-stage, but high-potential, entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business in the UK for the first time.

Generally, Start-up route applicants will not already have started setting up their business in the UK. However, where they have, the new business should not yet have started trading. The only exceptions to this are if the applicant has already been granted leave under the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories, or under the Tier 4 doctorate extension scheme.

If you are an experienced businessperson seeking to establish a business in the UK then the Innovator visa may be more appropriate. If you wish to join an already trading business, then the Skilled Worker visa may be more suitable.

What is the criteria for the UK Start-Up Route?

In order to qualify for a Start-up route, you will need to meet the following criteria:

-You are at least 18 years old;
-You have not previously established a business in the UK (unless you previously held leave as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur);
-You have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed your business idea for innovation, viability, and scalability and is satisfied that you will spend the majority of your working time in the UK on developing your business venture;
-Your endorsement letter was issued not more than 3 months before the date of your Start-up visa application;
-You genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in your application;
-You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking);
-If you are outside the UK or have been in the UK for less than 12 months then you have at least £1270 to support yourself, plus £285 for a dependent partner, £315 for a first child, and £200 for each additional child

If you’re interested in applying for the UK start-up route, we can help. Our team of experienced business immigration lawyers are on hand to guide you through the application process. Contact us today to learn more.

UK Visa Processing and Decision Waiting Times

UK Visa Processing and Decision Waiting Times

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has recently published service standards for waiting times for decisions on visa and immigration applications.  Here, we look at UK Visa Processing and Decision Waiting Times, including the Home Office service standards for waiting times, current Home Office visa processing times, options for securing a faster decision on a visa or immigration application, and how to challenge a delay in the processing of a UK visa or immigration application.  

UK Visa Processing and  Decision Waiting Times – standard processing times

If a UK visa application includes all relevant information and supporting documents (and the Home Office does not need to request further evidence or explanation) then the following standardised waiting times should apply:

  • Non-settlement visa applications submitted outside the UK: 90% to be decided within 3 weeks; 98% within 6 weeks and 100% within 12 weeks of the application date (where 1 week is 5 working days);
  • Settlement visa applications submitted outside the UK: 98.5% of settlement applications to be decided within 12 weeks of the application date and 100% within 24 weeks of the application date (where 1 week is 5 working days);
  • Applications for leave to remain submitted within the UK, including as spouses, workers and students: 8 weeks to be decided;
  • Applications for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) submitted within the UK: 6 months to be decided;
  • Applications for no time limit (NTL) submitted within the UK: 6 months to be decided;
  • Organisations seeking to sponsor a worker: 8 weeks;
  • Organisations updating their sponsor licence details: 18 weeks.

The processing time standard for applications submitted via the priority service and super-priority service is 5 working days and the next working day respectively, where these services are available.  Applications for a sponsor licence submitted via the pre-licence priority sponsor licence service should be decided within 10 working days.

What Factors Affect UK Visa Processing Times?

There are a number of factors which can delay UK visa processing times including: 

  • The complexity of the case, 
  • Concerns regarding suitability requirements such as criminality; 
  • Consideration of any adverse immigration history; 
  • Any concerns regarding the authenticity of documents; 
  • The volume of documents provided; 
  • Whether further investigations are required or an interview is scheduled; 
  • The capacity of caseworkers; and 
  • The time of the year.

There is no published service standard for waiting times for more complex applications and UKVI has a wide margin of appreciation with regard to the timing of their decisions. 

Home Office decision-making is sometimes delayed.  In the last couple of years, many UK visa applicants have experienced extended waiting times during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Currently, as we outline below, decisions on some UK visa applications are being delayed again as the Home Office seeks to prioritise Ukraine Visa Scheme applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine.

For expert advice and assistance regarding a UK visa application, contact our immigration lawyers on here for a free, no-obligation consultation. 

The English Language requirement test when applying for a visa to work in the UK

The English Language requirement test when applying for a visa to work in the UK

To apply for a skilled worker visa, an applicant must meet the English language requirement. The way in which an applicant can satisfy this requirement will depend on their circumstances. Here, we discuss the English Language requirement test when applying for a visa to work in the UK.

Awarded a degree taught in English

Where an applicant holds a qualification that is equivalent to at least a UK Bachelor’s degree which was taught in English, this may be evidence of their English ability.

Country in which degree was taughtEvidence required
UKThe degree certificate, transcript, or a letter that confirms the qualification has been awarded.
Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The
Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica,
Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica,
Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St
Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines,
Trinidad and Tobago, United States of
A degree taught in one of these countries will always be assumed by UVKI as having been taught in English.
However, applicants will need to apply for
confirmation their degree is equivalent to at least a UK
bachelor’s degree. Applicants must use Ecctis Visa and
Nationality service (English proficiency) to obtain this
Rest of the WorldIf the applicant was awarded their degree in one of these
countries, they must apply for confirmation that the
the degree was taught in English and is equivalent to at least a UK bachelor’s degree. Applicants must use Ecctis Visa and Nationality service (English proficiency) to obtain this

Passing an approved English language test at the required level

If the applicant has not been awarded a degree taught in English which is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree and they do not fall into one of the exemptions below, they would need to pass an approved English Language test. The English language test will assess the applicant’s ability in listening, speaking,
reading and writing. The applicant’s proficiency must be at least Level B1 on the CERF scale.

The approved test providers an applicant can choose from will depend on whether they are making their applicant in the UK or not.

Test providerLocation application shall be madePass requirements
Trinity College London Inside the UK-Listening: Pass
-Speaking: Pass
-Reading: Pass
-Writing: Pass
IELTS SELT ConsortiumInside or outside the UK-Listening: 4.0/9.0
-Speaking: 4.0/9.0
-Reading: 4.0/9.0
-Writing: 4.0/9.0
LanguageCertInside or outside the UK-Listening: 33/50
-Speaking: 33/50
-Reading: 33/50
-Writing: 33/50
PearsonInside or outside the UK-Listening: 43/90
-Speaking: 43/90
-Reading: 43/90
-Writing: 43/90
PSI Services (UK) LtdOutside the UK-Listening: Pass
-Speaking: Pass
-Reading: Pass
-Writing: Pass


Applicants are exempt from meeting the English language requirement if they:

-Are aged 65 and over;
-Are aged under 18;
-Have a disability (physical or mental condition) that prevents you from meeting the requirement.

Further, individuals who are citizens of one of the below-listed countries will automatically meet the English language requirement:

-Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America.

Applicants who have previously met the English language requirement as part of a previous visa application, for example, a student visa, will also automatically meet the English language requirement.

How we can assist

We hope that you have found this post on The English Language requirement test when applying for a visa to work in the UK useful. At Davenport Solicitors, we’re experts in business immigration and advise many businesses on the immigration and employment aspects of recruiting and employing overseas nationals in the UK and individuals with the requirements of work visas. If you would like to speak to a member of our team, you can contact our team here.

Thinking of hiring migrant workers? Here is what you need to know

hinking of hiring migrant workers? Here is what you need to know

For some business owners, hiring foreign workers is almost essential due to the nature or requirements of their business.  Whatever your pre-requisite for employing someone from outside the UK, you must be mindful of certain rules and requirements that foreign workers need to adhere to if they want to work in the UK. Is your business is thinking of hiring migrant workers? Here is what you need to know

The UK Immigration System

Since 1 January 2021, everyone (except for UK and Ireland nationals) has required immigration permission if they want to work in the UK. 

Following Brexit and the end of freedom of movement, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals (and certain family members) who arrived in the UK before 11 pm on 31 December 2020 had until 30 June 2021 to apply for (pre-)settled status under the EUSS in order to retain the right to live and work in the UK. It is still possible to apply under the scheme if individuals meet one of the criteria for the later deadline apply, or have reasonable grounds for not applying before the deadline, but this will only apply in limited circumstances.

All nationals from outside the UK and Ireland looking to work in the UK who are not eligible to apply under the EUSS and do not have an alternative route of entry (for example, eligibility for a visa as a spouse/civil partner of a UK or Irish national or person settled in the UK) will need to obtain a visa under the Points-based system (PBS).

Points Based System

The main business immigration routes under the PBS include:

  • Skilled Worker – for individuals in skilled roles sponsored by a UK employer. This route replaced the previous Tier 2 route.
  • Global Business Mobility (Senior or Specialist Worker) – for overseas employees moving to a linked UK entity. This route replaced the previous Intra-Company Transfer route. 
  • Global Business Mobility (UK Expansion Worker) – for senior managers or specialist employees who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK related to a business’s expansion to the UK. This route replaced the previous Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa.
  • Global Talent – for leading individuals in academia/research, the arts and digital technology, who have been endorsed by a Home Office-approved body.
  • Start-Up – for entrepreneurs who have been endorsed by a Home Office-approved body to set up a business in the UK.
  • Graduate – for individuals who are already in the UK under a student visa and who meet various eligibility criteria. The visa allows the graduate to stay in the UK for 2-3 years to look for, or undertake, work. There are no restrictions on the type of work that graduates can do under this type of visa and it does not require sponsorship.
  • Innovator – for individuals who have been endorsed by a Home Office-approved body to set up an innovative new business in the UK, which is different from anything else on the market.
  • Scale-Up (opens from 22 August 2022) – for individuals with a skilled job offer from a “qualifying UK scale-up” (broadly speaking, a fast-growing business that holds a sponsor license and meets certain criteria).
  • High Potential Individual (opened from 30 May 2022) – for individuals who have graduated from a top global university within the last 5 years. This visa allows individuals to obtain a work visa for between 2 and 3 years without the need for a sponsor.

Right-to-work checks

All UK employers (whether sponsors or not) are required to prevent the employment of illegal workers by conducting a “right to work check” on all employees before the start of their employment. If an employer is found to have employed an illegal worker and has not conducted right-to-work checks, they risk a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and potentially criminal sanctions in certain circumstances.

Employers will need to make sure that they have systems in place to conduct and record right-to-work checks in a legally compliant way, and that they avoid any discriminatory treatment of individuals in how these checks are carried out.

At Davenport Solicitors, we’re experts in business immigration and advise many businesses on the immigration and employment aspects of recruiting and employing overseas nationals in the UK. We hope that you’ve found this blog post on ‘Thinking of hiring migrant workers? Here is what you need to know’ useful. To learn how we can help you, contact a member of our team here.

What is the High Potential Individual (“HPI”) Visa?

The High Potential Individual (“HPI”) visa is one of several new immigration routes introduced by the Home Office this year. It is designed to attract “the brightest and best” to the UK, the HPI visa appears to form part of the Government’s wider plan to deliver an ‘elite points-based system’, as announced in their ‘Build Back Better: Plan for Growth’, to ensure the UK maintains its status as a “leading international hub for emerging and disruptive technologies”. In this post, we look at What is the High Potential Individual (“HPI”) Visa?

An Overview of HPI

To be eligible for the HPI visa, applicants will need to show that within the last five years, they have been awarded an overseas degree-level academic qualification from an institution on the ‘Global Universities List’.  Separate lists have now been published for each of the last five academic years, to enable applicants to determine whether they’re university-qualified at the time they graduated. They include overseas universities that have been ranked in the top 50 on at least two of the following global ranking systems in the relevant year:

(i) Times Higher Education World University Rankings;
(ii) Quacquerelli Symonds World University Rankings; or
(iii) The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

In addition to this, applicants will need to meet the usual English language requirement, and be able to show that they have sufficient funds to maintain themselves while in the UK.

Successful bachelor’s and master’s degree applicants will be granted two years of permission in the UK, while Ph.D. graduates will be granted three years.  Before the expiry of their visa, applicants will either need to leave the UK or have switched to another visa route.

On the HPI visa, applicants will also be able to bring dependent partners and children under the age of 18.

The HPI route appears to be the global equivalent of the Graduate visa, which was introduced in July 2021 for applicants graduating within the UK, from a Home Office-approved higher education provider.  Applicants applying for the Graduate visa must apply from within the UK and must be switching from a Student or Tier 4 (General) Student visa.

They must also have successfully completed their course by the date of application. The Graduate visa is also not limited to those graduating from universities that are top-ranked in the UK.

What will the launch of HPI mean to businesses?

In many ways, the HPI route is a welcome addition to the UK’s current array of visa offerings.

With no need for sponsorship, the HPI visa offers applicants the flexibility to work, study or be self-employed in the UK, as they wish. In this respect, the HPI visa sits alongside the Global Talent and Graduate visas as a rare route allowing applicants the flexibility to do as they please for up to two (or three) years.

However, as with many of the new visa categories launched in the last 12 months, the HPI visa is not a route that leads to settlement. This means that any time spent on this visa cannot be used to count towards the qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain, and will ultimately add further costs to what is already a very expensive journey for individuals looking to settle in the UK.

How to apply for the High Potential Individual Visa

An individual will need to apply online, submit a number of supporting documents and pay the relevant fee (£715 as of 31 May 2022) here. They will also need to attend a biometrics appointment.


The number of potential applicants under the HPI route will likely be significantly reduced by the requirement to have graduated within the last five years. Under the UK’s previous MBA visa scheme, the simple fact of having graduated from one of the top 50 MBA schools(in either the UK or abroad) was considered a significant enough achievement to enable applicants to qualify for a visa, and potentially settlement in the future – provided the educational establishment was on the Home Office list of approved institutions at the time the MBA was awarded.

It remains to be seen whether the HPI route will invite an influx of applications from the world’s best and brightest. While this is certainly a welcome addition to the current list of UK visa categories, what is clear is that there is definitely room for improvement.

We hope that you have found this post on What is the High Potential Individual (“HPI”) Visa? useful.  If you have any further questions with regards to HPI, contact one of our business immigration experts today.