US colleges make up over half of new list of universities whose graduates qualify for UK’s High Potential Individual visa

Article by Vanessa Ganguin, Managing Partner, Vanessa Ganguin Immigration Law

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The UK has published the latest list of top global universities whose graduates qualify for a High Potential Individual (HPI) visa. Again US universities dominate the list – with over half of all the top global universities that qualify for the prestigious visa.

The High Potential Individual visa is a great immigration route for those who have graduated from a list of around 40 top universities in the past five years to come and work in the UK without having to be sponsored.

Those granted the HPI visa may bring dependant family to the UK, look for work, work for an employer, work for themselves or start up a business.

It’s also a particularly useful immigration route for employers. High Potential Individuals may work in any capacity for a firm in the UK without the need of a sponsor licence, with no minimum salary restrictions.

The latest list of qualifying colleges just published by UK Visas & Immigration is yet again dominated by a majority of universities from North America. Out of 40 on the list for those graduating between 1 November 2022 and 31 October 2023, 21 are US education institutions and three are from Canada.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is back on the list again for this year, joining graduates of these other US universities who are invited to apply for the High Potential Individual visa: California Institute of Technology (Caltech); Columbia University; Cornell University; Duke University; Harvard University; Johns Hopkins University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); New York University (NYU); Northwestern University; Princeton University; Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); University of California, San Diego; University of Chicago; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of Pennsylvania; University of Texas at Austin; University of Washington and Yale University.

Potential applicants who graduated in other years can check the lists here for the year they graduated to see if their higher education institution would qualify them that year and find a fuller explanation of how the High Potential Individual visa works.

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

This isn’t a route to settlement, though those on an HPI visa can switch to certain more permanent immigration routes once in the UK. The scheme is an opportunity for graduates of top universities to try working in the UK and UK employers to get to hire them without the rigorous requirements of sponsorship.

Applicants with the equivalent of a UK Bachelor’s or Master’s degree will have up to two years to switch into another more long-term visa. Those with the equivalent of a UK PhD will have three years.

A husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner may accompany a high potential individual, as may children under 18 on the date of application. (Unmarried partners must be in a genuine and subsisting relationship of two years or over.)

For more advice on this and other UK immigration routes, or for a free strategic consultation on what would work best for you, please contact us on +44 (0)207 033 9527 or

Vanessa Ganguin, managing partner at Vanessa Ganguin Immigration Law, is one of the most highly regarded experts in UK immigration, with over 27 years’ specialist experience. She is recommended by Chambers & Partners UK, Chambers High Net Worth Guide, Legal 500 and Who’s Who Legal as a thought leader in immigration law.