UK to grant visas to graduates from the world’s top universities

The UK government announced, on 30 May, a new ‘High Potential Individual’ (HPI) visa category to offer work visas to graduates from the world’s top-rated universities in an expansion of the post-Brexit immigration system that is designed to attract the “best and brightest” workers.

After leaving the EU, the UK introduced a points-based immigration system that ranks applicants on a variety of criteria including their skill level, job suitability, English language level, salary and educational qualification.

The new HPI scheme is designed to grow the UK as an international hub for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Graduates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a top-ranked university abroad can apply for a two-year work visa and will also be allowed to bring family members. Those with doctorates can apply for a three-year visa. Successful applicants will then be able to switch to longer-term employment visas.

Under the HPI scheme, applicants must have been awarded degrees no more than five years before the date of application. Candidates must also pass a security and criminality check, and be able to speak, read, listen and write English to an intermediate level.

Eligible universities must appear simultaneously in the top 50 rankings of at least two of the following three lists: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities (also known as the ‘Shanghai Ranking’) and the QS World University Rankings.

On this basis, the most recent list of eligible universities published online by the UK government comprises a total of 37 universities worldwide, including 20 US universities, three in Canada, two each in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland, and one each in Australia, France, Germany and Sweden.

UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We want the businesses of tomorrow to be built here today, which is why I call on students to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to forge their careers here.”

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