New UK Work Visa Open to World’s Top Graduates

Graduates from the top 50 non-UK universities can apply to come to the UK through a new visa scheme.

The Government hopes its “high potential individual” route, which launches on Monday May 30, will attract the “brightest and best”, at the beginning of their careers, to come and work in the UK.

The visa will allow eligible individuals to come to the UK without a prior job offer, and dependants will be allowed to accompany them.

Successful applicants with a Bachelor’s or Masters will be given a two-year work visa, while PhD-holders can apply for a three-year visa.

Government guidance states that beneficiaries can then “switch to other long-term employment visas, if you meet the eligibility requirements”.

High Potential Individuals

The route is open to graduates from the top 50 non-UK universities, who hold a degree, equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, awarded no more than five years before the date of application.

Although the Home Office would not comment on the number, it has been reported that the visa scheme will be uncapped, meaning the number will depend on demand.

Eligible universities must appear in the top 50 rankings of at least two of either: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings or The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The most recent list of eligible universities from 2021, published online by the Government, comprises 20 US institutions, plus universities from Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, France, Sweden and Switzerland.

The Government also stipulates that candidates must pass a security and criminality check, and be able to speak, read, listen and write English to at least the B1 intermediate level.

The British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, defines B1 intermediate level as “those who have the necessary fluency to communicate without effort with native speakers”.

The visa will cost £715 and is subject to the immigration health surcharge, a sum successful visa or immigration applicants pay which allows use of the NHS.

Anyone applying for the visa must have maintenance funds of at least £1,270.

Best and Brightest Talent

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “This new visa offer means that the UK can continue to attract the best and brightest from across the globe.

“The route means that the UK will grow as a leading international hub for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

“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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