On May 30, the UK government plans to launch a “highly selective” visa programme for graduates of the world’s top universities, with the goal of broadening the country’s skill base.
The High Potential Individual visa route will be open to bachelors, masters, and PhD graduates from institutions on a “Global Universities List” of 50 institutions, with the goal of attracting high skilled overseas talent to support “growth and innovation.”
The Home Office will publish an annual list of institutions outside the UK that are ranked in at least two of three prestigious rankings. The initiative includes the following rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.
Being from the top 50 of just one of the rankings will not get you on the global list. ETH Zurich in Switzerland, Canada’s University of Toronto, The University of Tokyo in Japan, and a number of top-ranked institutions in the United States are likely to appear on the list. Qualifications must have been granted no more than five years prior to the application date. The visa will be valid for two years for bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients and three years for PhD holders.
“The new High Potential Individual route will make it as simple as possible for internationally mobile individuals at an early stage of their careers who demonstrate high potential to come to the UK,” minister for Safe & Legal Migration, Kevin Foster said in a statement in March.
Attracting the most promising talent to the UK can boost growth and increase the international competitiveness of the UK’s most innovative businesses and sectors. According to insiders, the new visa will allow the UK to attract the most sought-after graduates while also broadening the UK’s skill base. Anonymous sources, however, warn that the new route may jeopardise the graduate route, which requires talented students to study at UK universities before acquiring access to employment.
Participants in the new scheme will be able to work in any job in the UK without the need for sponsorship or a degree from a UK university, but they must meet a £1,270 financial requirement in addition to English language requirements. They will also have the option of changing routes, which could lead to settlement in the United Kingdom. It is uncertain how many graduates will be attracted by the route, but the government has stated that the number is limitless.
A Scale-Up visa will be available on August 22nd of this year. The work visa route will be available to both EU and non-EU citizens who have job offers at the graduate level or higher from Home Office-approved sponsors. Applicants must have a salary starting at £33,000 and English language proficiency at the B1 level or higher. According to Foster, it is intended to attract a “highly sought-after cohort” of individuals. The two new visa routes, announced in the UK Innovation Strategy in July 2021, will help to “attract and retain high-skilled, globally mobile innovation talent,” according to the government.
“We want to welcome any [individuals] that bring in talent to the UK,” UKCISA chief executive Anne Marie Graham highlighted.
In May 2021, the government also announced a fast-track immigration route for “prestigious award winners,” with the goal of attracting another group of talented individuals, including Nobel Prize, Turing Award, Oscar, and Golden Globe winners. In addition, the government intends to launch its electronic travel authorization system for visitors who do not require visas to enter the UK. The authorization, which will be granted within hours of the application being submitted, is expected to receive 30 million applications per year. Fees for the High Potential and Scale-Up visas will be £715 for the main applicant and any dependents.
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