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Government to launch new "high potential" visa

A new visa will be introduced this month to help attract some of the world’s best graduates to the UK.

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    New visa launched to attract overseas graduates

    The end of May will see the launch of a new visa aimed at attracting talented graduates to the UK.

    Overseas students from the world’s leading universities will be able to work in the UK for two to three years via the High Potential Individual visa route. It is hoped the new visa will increase the number of highly skilled workers in the UK and therefore benefit many UK-based firms.

    Anyone applying for the High Potential Individual visa will have to hold at least a bachelor degree from a university on an official list produced by the government. It is expected the top universities will be based on rankings given by the Times Higher Education World University rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University rankings and The Academic Ranking of the World Universities.


    Open to a wide range of foreign graduates

    Applicants must have obtained their qualification no more than five years before and the visa will last for two years for bachelors and masters graduates and three years for those with a PhD.

    Costing £715, the visa will allow holders to come to the UK without a job offer or sponsorship and they will be able to apply for work on arrival. There are also no restrictions on setting up a new business, being self-employed or volunteering.

    However, applicants must be able to show they have at least £1,270 in funds and meet certain English language requirements.

    It is possible to bring dependents, such as a partner or children aged under 18, under the visa criteria. The Home Office has also confirmed it will be possible to switch to another visa route once the High Potential visa expires.

    Aims to “drive the international competitiveness” of the UK

    “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,” explained the minister for Safe and Legal Migration, Kevin Foster.

    He added: “Bringing those with the most potential to the UK can boost growth and drive the international competitiveness of the UK’s most innovative businesses and sectors.”

    Qualifying universities are expected to include Harvard, Stanford, University of Toronto, The University of Tokyo and Peking University.

    As well as the High Potential Individual route, the government has confirmed the creation of a Scale Up visa. The new visa will allow overseas graduates with job offers from Home Office-approved sponsors and it will be launched later this year.

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