The UK High Potential Individual Visa

This article provides a detailed summary of the UK High Potential Individual Visa route.

There are two parts, which cover the following topics:


Part 1

What is the Purpose of the UK High Potential Individual Visa?

The Validity Requirements

The Suitability Requirement


Part 2:

The Eligibility Requirements

Points-Based Eligibility Requirements

The Decision


This is part 1 of the article. Your can read part 2 HERE.


What is the Purpose of the UK High Potential Individual Visa?

The UK High Potential Individual Visa
The UK High Potential Individual Visa

The UK High Potential Individual Visa is for recent graduates of top global universities who want to work or look for work in the UK following the successful completion of an eligible course of study equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree level or above. The study must have been with an institution listed on the Global Universities List.

The UK High Potential Individual visa is unique because, despite the fact that it’s a points-based route, you don’t need to have a sponsor to apply for it.


3 Requirements to Satisfy

You’ll need to meet three requirements to get a UK High Potential Individual Visa:

  • The Validity Requirements
  • The Suitability Requirements
  • The Eligibility Requirements


The Validity Requirements

The Validity Requirements of the UK High Potential Individual Visa consist of two key parts: the procedure and the switching rules.

The correct procedure for the UK High Potential Individual Visa applications consists of 5 parts:

  1. The form
  2. Fees
  3. Passport and Age
  4. Biometrics
  5. TB

The Form

If you are applying outside the UK, you’ll need to complete the “High Potential Individual visa” form.

For those, who apply in the UK, the form is called “High Potential Individual”, without the word ‘visa’.

The Fee and IHS

When you apply for the UK High Potential Individual Visa, you’ll need to:

  • pay £210 for Ecctis to check your qualification is valid (£252 if you’re applying from the UK)
  • pay the £715 application fee
  • pay the healthcare surcharge – this is usually £624 for each year you’ll be in the UK. If your UK High Potential Individual Visa is for 2 years, then you’ll pay £1,248. For 3 years it will be £1,872.

However, If you get a job in public sector healthcare after you have paid the healthcare surcharge, you may be able to get a refund.


As with all other visa applications, you’ll need to submit your biometrics. EEA nationals can apply using the UK Immigration: ID Check app.

Passport and Age

You’ll have to submit your passport as proof of your identity, nationality and age. If you are applying from one of the EU or EEA countries, you will not be able to apply with your ID. The UKVI accepts passports only.

You’ll have to be over 18 for your UK High Potential Individual Visa application to be accepted.


If you are applying from the UK, you’ll also need to consider the switching rules. Switching is a legal process which allows you to switch from one immigration category to another. For example, if you are in the UK on a UK Graduate Trainee visa and would like to apply for the UK High Potential Individual Visa – the ‘switching rules’ will apply to you because you’ll be changing immigration categories.

If you are in the UK:

(a) as a Visitor; or

(b) as a Short-term Student; or

(c) as a Parent of a Child Student; or

(d) as a Seasonal Worker; or

(e) as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or

(f) outside the Immigration Rules.

Also, you cannot apply for the UK High Potential Individual Visa if you have already been given a Graduate visa or came to the UK as a Doctorate Extension Scheme student.

You’ll need to leave the UK and make your UK High Potential Individual Visa from outside.

TB Test Certificate

If you are applying from outside the UK and your country is on the Appendix T list, you’ll also need to submit a tuberculosis test certificate with the application.

If you are a national of the country, which is on Appendix T list, but you have been residing in another country, which is not on Appendix T for over 6 months, you do not need to do the test and submit the certificate.

Once you’ve complied with the procedural part and met the switching rules, if they applied to your application, you’ll need to prove that you meet the suitability requirements.

These requirements apply to almost all the UK visa routes, and you have to meet them in addition to the validity and eligibility requirements.


The Suitability Requirements

At the risk of oversimplification, the Suitability requirements ensure that you are of good character. You’ll find a list of all suitability requirements at part 9 of the Immigration Rules.

Grounds for refusal include, but are not limited to:

  • Exclusion or deportation order grounds
  • Non-conducive grounds
  • Criminality grounds
  • Exclusion from asylum or humanitarian protection grounds
  • Involvement in a sham marriage or sham civil partnership grounds
  • False representations, etc. grounds
  • Previous breach of immigration laws grounds
  • Failure to provide the required information, etc. grounds
  • Admissibility to the Common Travel Area or other countries grounds
  • Debt to the NHS grounds
  • Unpaid litigation costs grounds
  • Purpose not covered by the Immigration Rules grounds
  • No entry clearance grounds
  • Failure to produce recognised passport or travel document grounds
  • Medical grounds
  • Consent for a child to travel grounds
  • Returning residents grounds
  • Customs breaches grounds
  • Change of circumstances or purpose grounds
  • Rough sleeping in the UK
  • Crew members
  • Ceasing to meet the requirement of rules
  • Dependent grounds
  • Withdrawal of sponsorship or endorsement grounds
  • Student does not start course or ceases to study
  • Worker does not start work or ceases their employment
  • Sponsor loses licence or transfers business
  • Change of employer
  • Absence from employment
  • Change of job or lower salary rate
  • Endorsing body no longer approved
  • Exception for Scale-up Workers


Mandatory v Discretionary

If you think that one or more grounds for refusal may apply to you, your application WILL or MAY BE refused.  It will depend on whether the suitability requirement is mandatory or discretionary.

If the suitability requirement is mandatory, then the decision-maker has no choice and WILL refuse your application. If the suitability requirement is discretionary, then the decision-maker has a choice and can either allow or refuse the application.

To identify the mandatory and discretionary grounds for refusal, you need to look at the wording of the rule itself. All mandatory grounds for refusal include the word ‘must’. All discretionary grounds for refusal include the word ‘may’.

For example:

9.2.2. Entry clearance or permission held by a person must be cancelled where the Secretary of State has personally directed that the person be excluded from the UK.

This rule is mandatory because of the word ‘must’. So, if there was an exclusion from the country, the decision-maker WILL refuse the application – they have no choice because it is a mandatory ground for refusal.

9.11.1. An application for entry clearance, permission to enter or permission to stay may be refused where a relevant NHS body has notified the Secretary of State that the applicant has failed to pay charges under relevant NHS regulations on charges to overseas visitors and the outstanding charges have a total value of at least £500.

The words ‘MAY BE’ in rule 9.11.1 indicate that if you have a debt to NHS of over £500, the decision-maker has a choice.


If One of the Suitability Requirements Applies

To check if you may be caught by any of the suitability requirements, I suggest that you explore Part 9 of the Immigration Rules in more detail.

If you think that one or more discretionary grounds for refusal apply, I suggest you rectify them before applying, if you can. For example, I you have any outstanding debts to NHS – repay them. If you can’t – explain in your supporting letter why the decision-maker should exercise discretion in your favour.

However, if any of the mandatory grounds for refusal apply, sadly, the application will be refused because the decision-maker cannot exercise discretion in your favour, even if they wanted to.


If You are Applying from the UK

You should bear in mind that when making your in-country application, in addition to meeting the suitability requirements in part 9 of the Immigration Rules, you can only submit the application if you are not on Immigration bail and remain in the UK lawfully.

If you are an overstayer (do not have any valid visa when living in the UK), the Home Office will only accept your application if you can persuade them to disregard your overstaying under paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules.

You’ll get the protection of paragraph 39E from overstaying if you submit your visa application within no more than 14 days after the expiry of your previous visa, together with documentary evidence confirming that you couldn’t submit your application before because of some exceptional circumstances beyond your or your representative’s control.

Examples of circumstances beyond your contract may include:

  • admission to the hospital for emergency treatment (evidenced by an official letter verifying the dates of admission and discharge and the nature of the treatment)
  • a close family bereavement
  • an educational institution was not sufficiently prompt in issuing a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)


Continue reading part 2 of the article HERE.

The UK High Potential Individual Visa