What is a High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa?

A High Potential Individual Visa is a unique visa that allows academically accomplished individuals to live and work in the UK for at least 2 years. You must have graduated from a qualifying university in the past 5 years to be eligible for the visa. The qualifying list of universities varies by year but typically features the best universities in the world. Sanford, Harvard, and Princeton are just three examples of the high calibre institutions included on the list. If you meet the qualification criteria and adequately demonstrate this in your application, you’ll be granted a two or three-year visa. Two-year visas are granted for bachelor’s or postgraduate degrees, while PhD’s and doctorate qualifications are rewarded with a three-year visa.

Eligibility Criteria for a High Potential Individual Visa

Several eligibility requirements must be met to qualify for a High Potential Individual Visa. Requirements can sometimes vary based on the location of the application, but typically, most applicants will need to satisfy the following:

  • Eligible University – You must have been awarded a qualification from an eligible university within the past 5 years. The list of eligible universities is based on a ranking system of universities from around the world. You should check whether the institution you attended was included on the list when you graduated.
  • Eligible Qualification – You must have been awarded a qualification equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree, PhD, or doctorate.
  • Proof of English Language – You must demonstrate your English language ability through an approved English language test, a qualification taught in English, or through holding the nationality of a majority English-speaking country
  • Sufficient Funds – You must have at least £1,270 in savings to support yourself in the UK unless you’ve already been here for over 12 months.
  • Tuberculosis Certificate – If you are applying from or have recently lived in a country where tuberculosis (TB) is prevalent, you will need to take a TB test certificate to prove you do not have the disease.


Rights and Entitlements of a High Potential Individual Visa

Having a High Potential Individual Visa provides you with great flexibility and autonomy within the UK. The visa allows you to:

  • Engage in a wide range of occupations.
  • Seek employment opportunities.
  • Establish and manage your own business.
  • Reside in the UK with your eligible partner and children.
  • Participate in voluntary activities.
  • Travel abroad and re-enter the UK without restriction.

It’s important to note that there are some restrictions as well:

  • You’re ineligible for most forms of benefits or the State Pension.
  • Professional sports-related work is not allowed.
  • Extending this visa is not an option (although you can switch to another visa, such as a Skilled Worker visa).
  • Applying for permanent settlement in the UK is not permitted.

Document List for a High Potential Individual Visa

When applying for a High Potential Individual Visa, you must demonstrate that you meet the full eligibility criteria. This is done by providing documents as part of your application, which irrefutably demonstrates that you meet the criteria.

The following documents will be needed for most HPI visa applications:

  • A passport or alternative travel document displaying your identity and nationality
  • Ecctis ‘Academic Qualification Level Statement’
  • Proof of your English language ability; an approved test certificate, passport from a majority English-speaking country, or Ecctis ‘English Language Proficiency Statement’
  • Evidence of sufficient personal savings to support yourself in the UK, such as bank statements
  • Proof of your relationship with any partners or children who are applying as dependants
  • Your tuberculosis test certificate if you’re applying from a listed country


High Potential Individual Visa Fee and Associated Costs

When making an application for a High Potential Individual Visa, you’ll need to provision for the following costs:

  • £210 fee to have Ecctis validate your qualifications’ authenticity (£252 if applying from within the UK).
  • Application fee of £822 (plus a further £822 for each dependant)
  • Any additional priority service fees if you want to expedite your application
  • The immigration healthcare surcharge fee amounts to £624 for each year of your intended stay in the UK.
  • Maintenance funds for your arrival in the UK, typically amounting to a minimum of £1,270.

High Potential Individual Visa Processing Times

The processing time varies based on whether you apply from inside or outside the UK. Typically, applications are processed within 3 weeks if made within the UK and 8 weeks for those made outside the UK. If you need a faster turnaround on your application, you should consider using a priority service. While additional fees are charged, these services allow you to receive a decision within 1 or 5 working days. The availability of these priority services will be displayed during the online application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Haven’t found the information you’re looking for yet? Check out our frequently asked questions section below, and if you’ve still got questions, then get in touch.

You can apply for an HPI visa from inside and outside the UK. If you want to apply from within the UK, you must first have a valid visa and existing immigration status. It is not possible to visit as a tourist and then apply to switch to an HPI visa.

You can only ever have one HPI visa, which means no extensions and no second applications. It is possible to switch to another visa within the UK before the expiry of your HPI visa, with Skilled Worker visas and Innovator Founder visas, two of the most common.

With an HPI visa, you can engage in studies, but only if your chosen course isn’t eligible for a Student visa. In cases where your chosen course qualifies for a Student visa, you can either apply for a Student visa or, if you already hold one, extend your existing Student visa.

Yes. There’s no alternative to paying Ecctis to validate your qualifications. The ‘Academic Level Qualification Statement’ issued by Ecctis is a compulsory part of the application process.