A new visa route opened in the United Kingdom (UK) on the 30th of May 2022 for persons deemed to be High Potential Individuals.

The new visa has attracted excitement,  praise and some criticism for the exclusionary nature of the list of designated Universities when it comes to African and South American Universities.

It is important to note that the Graduate Visa route remains applicable to graduates from UK Universities. However, studying at a UK University usually comes at a high cost.

In this article, we will give you a brief overview of the critical features of this new visa route. It cannot be guaranteed that a given university will stay on the list for a certain year, so we will also consider some of the destinations that you may choose for studies (at Bachelor’s or Master’s level) that may be more accessible than studying in the UK and open the door to potentially move to the UK through the High Potential Individual Visa route – that is if you have not fallen in love with the country you have studied in and decide to stay there.

Key Features of the HPI Visa:

  • There is no requirement to have obtained a job offer to be able to apply.
  • With the HPI visa you may be employed in most jobs, look for work, be self-employed and/or do voluntary work.
  • Your partner and children can generally accompany you.
  • The visa will be issued for 2 years and is not renewable.
  • After the 2-year stay, you can consider applying for a different visa, such as a Skilled Worker Visa. The HPI visa thereby gives you the benefit to seek employment and an employer may know you better and therefore be more willed to sponsor your Skilled Worker Visa.
  • The key requirements for the HPI Visa application are:
    • You have received a qualification (evaluated by Ecctis) from a designated university in the past 5 years.
    • You prove your knowledge of English
    • You prove that you have sufficient personal savings to support yourself in the UK.

Universities Featured on the Designated List:

Most of the Universities on the designated list are based in the United States (US) but there have been a few interesting inclusions from Europe. While these may not have as “stable” of a position on the global rankings used to determine the designated list, they do provide the key benefit of likely being more affordable than studies in the US or Canada (which also has 2 Universities that feature consistently on the list).

The countries of interest are Germany and France (Swedish and Swiss universities also feature on the designated list, but study fees in these countries vary across a wide and potentially high range).

Over the past 5 years, the French University Paris Sciences et Lettres University has consistently featured on the list and 3 German universities make interchanging appearances: the University of Munich (LMU), Technical University of Munich (TMU) and the University of Heidelberg.

The study fees in France have currently been set at € 2,770 per year for a Bachelor’s Degree and € 3,770 per year for Master’s programmes – considerably less than the average study fees in the UK, Canada and US.

In Germany, only some states have implemented study fees for foreign students and in many states (including Bavaria (Munich), foreign students are still able to receive the same fees as charged to local students, which consist only of a sum to cover administrative costs and are usually under € 600 per year. Where study fees are charged, such as at the University of Heidelberg, they remain minimal at €3,000 per year.

Both in Germany and France, there are increasing opportunities for English-taught degree courses, especially at the Master’s level – of course, teaching in French will not be a problem for citizens of various French-speaking African countries.

Keep your Study Options Open:

Considering studying in one of the alternative destinations may therefore provide you with an approachable route to qualifying for the new HPI visa and it allows you to keep all options open. If the university stays on the designated list as expected, you have a door opened to the UK, even if you have not received a job offer.

Alternatively, the country in which you have studied – our focus being on France and Germany – may also offer you opportunities to stay and seek employment or you may have found a dream destination that you never previously considered.

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For all your international Study Visa needs, including the UK, US, France and Germany, contact us today.
Our International Immigration services are overseen by our Out of Africa Specialist and Expert, Hannah Mminele.