New High Potential Individual qualifying universities list out - and it's good news for US graduates

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The new list of elite universities that qualify graduates for the High Potential visa to the UK has been announced and there’s great news for graduates of many US colleges and those who want to hire them in the UK. 

High Potential Individuals can come to the UK without the need of a job offer or sponsorship and work, look for work, work freelance or even start a business. They may bring qualifying dependant family members too. Applications are processed relatively speedily.

This is a great immigration route for those who qualify. Eligible people who graduated from a list of around 40 top universities in the past five years will not be restricted to taking up employment with a UK business that holds a sponsor licence and any employment they undertake will not be subject to belonging to a standard occupation classification (SOC) code or minimum salary restrictions.


Which universities qualify the latest graduates for an HPI visa?

The list of eligible international universities is published every year by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) and the list of qualifying global universities for HPI applicants awarded their qualification between 1 November 2023 and 31 October 2024 has just been published.

Again, United States higher education institutions dominate the list: California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), New York University, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of California San Diego, University of Chicago, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Pennsylvania, University of Washington and Yale University make it 19 US universities this year.

Last year (qualifications awarded between 1 November 2022 and 31 October 2023) featured 21 US universities as University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign University of Texas at Austin have both dropped of this year.

Instead, there are more Chinese universities than ever qualifying graduates for the HPI visa this year: Fudan University, Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tsinghua University and Zhejiang University all from mainland China. The University of Hong Kong is also on the list.

There are three Canadian institutions that qualify graduates this year: McGill University, University of British Columbia and University of Toronto.

Japan’s Kyoto University and University of Tokyo feature again, as do Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU)   and National University of Singapore.

There are just six qualifying European universities this year with Delft University of Technology, Netherlands on the list for the first time, as well as these from last year’s list: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL Switzerland) and ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Switzerland; Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University in France and Technical University of Munich in Germany.

And the University of Melbourne is the only Australian university on the list this year, indeed the only qualifying institution in the Southern hemisphere.


Would your university qualify you for an HPI visa the year you graduated?

Potential applicants can check the lists for the year they graduated here to see if their higher education institution would qualify to apply for a High Potential Individual visa.

NB: you must have been awarded your qualification in the last five years – ie: the date of actual award – this will normally appear on the diploma/certificate itself must be within five years of your application.


Can people in the UK switch to a High Potential Individual Visa ?

Applicants and dependants already in the UK can switch to this immigration route without leaving the UK, unless you are in the UK as visitors, short-term students, parents of a child at school, domestic workers, or have been granted leave outside the Immigration Rules.


How long will High Potential Individuals be granted leave for?

The amount of time that will be granted to applicants will depend on the level of the academic qualification.

A qualification equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s or Master’s level degree will allow a period of two years.

The equivalent to a UK PhD or other doctoral level qualification will afford a period of three years.


Can High Potential Individuals stay on in the UK after their visa?

While this route does not lead to settlement in the UK, it does allow switching to another immigration route that may lead to settlement in the UK. At any point before it expires, people on the High Potential Individual visa may switch into permitted work categories leading to settlement, such as Skilled Worker, Start up, Scale up, Innovator or Global Talent visas.


Which family members can join you on an HPI visa?

A husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner may accompany a High Potential Individual, as can children under 18 on the date of application. Partners must be in a genuine and subsisting relationship of two years or over.

Like most immigration categories, dependants can also apply to switch into another UK immigration category if they qualify for it.


Find out more about applying for a High Potential Individual visa.

Vanessa Ganguin Immigration Law is highly rated in all main legal guides for responsive immigration advice to individuals and businesses. For more detailed advice on this and other new immigration routes, or for a strategic consultation on what would work best for you, please contact us on 0207 033 9527 or