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High Potential Individual Visa UK for Nigerians

If you have been awarded a qualification by an eligible university in the last five years, you can apply for a High Potential Individual Visa (HPI). A HPI Visa gives holders permission to stay in the UK for a minimum of two years.

For more information about the High Potential Individual Visa and personalised advice from an expert, speak to a member of our legal team today. Call us on +23413438882 or visit our Lagos office today. You can also get in touch with our UK branch on +44 (0) 3316300929 or contact us online.

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    Want to Apply for a UK High Potential Individual Visa?

    We are empathetic and experienced immigration lawyers that specialise in supporting Nigerian clients throughout the emigration process. Our skilled team of lawyers is dedicated to ensuring your travel plans are smooth and will handle all aspects of your application process.

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    UK High Potential Individual Visa: Overview

    The HPI visa is a permit for people who have found success at an educational institution outside the UK in the last five years. However, the list of eligible universities is relatively small, so before you do anything else, you will need to check the UK Government site to see if your university is on the eligibility list for the year you received your degree. If it is not on the list, you will not be allowed to apply.

    The HPI visa can allow holders to stay in the UK for two years, but if you have a PhD or similar qualification, you will most likely be allowed to stay in the UK for three years.

    The HPI visa cannot be extended, and you cannot apply for a HPI visa if you have already held a Graduate Route visa or come to the UK via the Doctorate Extension Scheme.

    Your family can apply alongside you and stay in the UK as your dependants if they are eligible. You will need to provide evidence of your relationship when you apply and prove that your family have enough money to support themselves during their stay.

    UK High Potential Individual Visa: Requirements

    As mentioned, you must have received a degree from an eligible university in the last five years in order to apply for a HPI visa. The list of universities changes with each graduation year, so you must check on the UK Government website to see which universities are applicable for your graduation year.

    Students studying in the UK on a Student Visa cannot apply for a HPI visa, but they may be eligible for the Graduate Route.

    Your qualification must be at the same level as:

    • A UK bachelor’s degree
    • A UK master’s degree
    • A UK PhD or Doctorate

    You must also apply to Ecctis for confirmation that your degree is valid and matches the required level in order to apply for a HPI visa.

    Additional requirements include:

    • Proven knowledge of the English language to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. You can do this by passing a Secure English Language Test from an approved provider, by providing evidence that you possess a GCSE, A level or equivalent qualification in English from a UK school which you began before the age of 18, or a degree-level qualification that was taught in English.
    • Proof that you have the funds to support yourself during your stay (unless you have been in the UK with a valid visa for 12 months)

    Unlike the Graduate Route, you do not need a job offer in order to apply for a HPI visa.

    Applying from Outside the UK

    Applicants who are submitting their application from outside the UK will need to register their fingerprints and photograph ID at a visa application centre. This is so they receive a biometric residence permit which will confirm their immigrant status once they are in the UK. Nigerian applicants can find visa application centres in Lagos and Abuja.

    Much of the process for applying from outside the UK is the same as if you were applying from inside the UK. You must apply within 5 years of receiving your qualification from an eligible university. The full list of universities that you must have a degree from in order to apply changes every year, so you need to check on the UK government website to see which universities are accepted each year.

    When you apply you may be told you need to make an appointment at a visa office to have your biometric information recorded. At this appointment, you may be asked several questions by immigration officers concerning areas such as:

    • Your personal circumstances
    • Your family’s circumstances (if they are accompanying you to the UK)
    • Your financial situation
    • Your reasons for travelling to the UK
    • Your academic history

    You will need to take the documents you have used for your application as proof of your identity, which the centre may keep during processing. This includes:

    • A valid passport or equivalent travel document that shows your identity and nationality
    • Proof of your knowledge of the English language as listed in the requirements section above
    • Your Ecctis statement (you will still need to apply for and pay for this separately)

    For guidance on fees, please refer to the costs section of this article.

    Once you have completed the online application, attended any appointments and submitted all relevant ID and documentation, you should receive a decision within 3 weeks. If there is a delay in processing your application, you will be notified. Please factor this waiting period into any travel plans to avoid disappointment.

    If you need to cancel your application, your fees will only be refunded if UK Visas and Immigration has not begun processing. You will receive your official decision via an email which will also explain your next steps.


    Before you apply, you will need to have confirmation from Ecctis that your qualification is valid. You must pay for this separately as it does not come as part of the application form.

    Documents you will need when applying for an HPI visa include:

    • A valid passport or equivalent travel document that shows your identity and nationality
    • Proof of your knowledge of the English language as listed in the requirements section
    • Your Ecctis statement

    In some cases, you will also need to provide:

    • Your biometric residence permit or proof of your immigration status if you are switching to a HPI visa from another route
    • Results from a tuberculosis test if you are from a listed country or have lived in a listed country in the last six months. Nigeria is a listed country, so you are likely to need test results when applying
    • Evidence that your relationship with your partner or children is legally recognised
    • If your documents need translating into English or Welsh, a certified translation must also be included in your application


    The cost of applying for a High Potential Individual Visa covers personal savings, the healthcare charge, the application fee and the cost of Ecctis confirmation. You can expect to pay:

    • £210 for Ecctis approval (£252 if applying from inside the UK)
    • £715 for the application fee
    • £624 (per year of residency) for the health care surcharge all visa holders must pay before being accepted into the country.

    You must also have a minimum of £1270 available in your bank account upon application to prove that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay in the UK. This money needs to have been available for at least 28 days before applying.

    This means that, including personal savings to cover your stay, you will need at least £3443 available for two years of UK residency.

    Your partner and children will also need to prove that they can afford to live in the UK. Dependants’ financial requirements currently stand at:

    • £285 for your partner
    • £315 for a single child
    • £200 for each additional child

    Family members will also have to pay a £1248 healthcare surcharge each if staying for two years, which increases to £1,872 each if staying for three years.

    Both you and your family members may be entitled to a refund of the healthcare surcharge if you or your dependants get a job in the healthcare sector during your stay. You will need to apply for this.

    Our team of skilled immigration specialists is dedicated to helping Nigerian talents like you navigate the complexities of HPI visa. Contact Us

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      Processing Time

      Applications for the UK High Potential Individual Visa are usually processed within three weeks, though if you are switching from another visa to a HPI visa, you might have to wait 8 weeks for an answer. It is always recommended to submit your application well in advance of any travel plans you might have for your visit.

      Switching to a High Potential Individual Visa from other Visa Routes

      If you are already in the UK on a different type of visa, you might be able to apply for a switch to a High potential Individual Visa. Your dependants will not switch alongside you automatically, so they will need to apply at the same time as you or any other time before their current visa runs out.

      Until your switch is approved, you must stay in the regions of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. If you are found to have travelled outside this zone during the decision-making process, your application will be automatically withdrawn.

      you cannot apply to switch to a HPI visa if you are in the UK on:

      • A visit visa
      • A short-term student or Graduate visa
      • A Parent of a Child Student visa
      • A seasonal worker or domestic worker visa
      • Immigration bail or external permission to stay outside immigration regulations for compassionate reasons

      You will need to pay the regular fees stated in the costs section and have biometric information taken. You will also need to prove that you can afford to support yourself during your stay (if you have been in the UK for less than a year).

      Processing for this switch can take 8 weeks or even longer if your documents need verification or you need to attend an interview to prove your identity. The online application will let you know if you need to take extra steps.

      How Can IAS Help?

      Immigration Advice Service are international experts on UK immigration support services, specialising in providing confidential, empathetic and accurate support for individuals looking to explore their visa options and gain insight into how to build strong applications.

      For more information, speak to our Nigerian branch on +23413438882 or visit our office in Lagos, Nigeria. You can also call our UK branch on +44 (0) 3316300929 or contact us online.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                The HPI visa does not directly lead to settlement in the UK, however, you might be able to switch to a visa that does lead to settlement before your HPI visa expires.

                Applicants from Nigeria can apply for a UK Settlement Visa if they have lived in the UK for a minimum of five years on a work, study or business visa. How you apply for settlement depends on what kind of visa you have switched to after holding a HPI visa.

                You may also be able to apply for settlement if you have a family member who has settled permanently in the UK as a British citizen or someone holding indefinite leave to remain status.

                IAS has a track record of successfully supporting Nigerian clients looking to settle permanently in the UK. Contact us today to find out more about how we can support your application.