International graduates from some the best universities outside the UK can apply to live and work in Britain through a new visa scheme which launches today.
The Government has described the ‘High Potential Individual visa’ as “a short-term work visa for individuals at an early career stage, who have shown they have potential to benefit the UK workforce.”
The visa is open to alumni who have graduated from one of the global universities listed by Gov.uk in the last five years.
The website includes a list of all the eligible universities from 2016 to 2021. An applicant’s university must be featured in the list which matches the year they graduated.
The listed universities feature in the top 50 rankings of at least two of the following lists: the Academic Ranking of World Universities, Quacquarelli Symonds world university rankings, or the Times Higher Education world university rankings.
Graduates won’t need a job offer to apply for the HPI visa, and their place of birth won’t impact their eligibility.
Eligible individuals will also be allowed to bring their dependants to live with them, as long as they have at least £1,270 available in maintenance funds.
Successful applicants with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree will be given a two-year work visa. A three-year visa will be open to graduates holding a PhD.
There is also a possibility to eventually “switch to other long-term employment visas, if you meet the eligibility requirements”, according to government guidance.
The list of eligible universities for 2021 includes leading institutions from the USA, Switzerland, Singapore, China, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, Germany, and Sweden.
Some of the universities in this list which also feature in the top 50 insitutions for Agriculture according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings include, Harvard University, University of Toronto, ETH Zurich, University of Tokyo and University of Hong Kong.
Some academics have criticised the new scheme however, as it excludes any graduates who have studied in Africa. No universities from Southern Asia or Latin America made the list either.
Dr. Amina Ahmed El-Imam, Senior Lecturer in microbiology at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria told the New Scientist: “As someone from Nigeria who did their PhD in Britain, it’s heart-breaking to see that there are still processes being put in place that inadvertently exclude Africans.”
“Does this visa mean that there are no individual graduates from African universities with high potential?”
Applying for the visa will cost £715, with an added surplus immigration health surcharge, which allows applicants to have access to the NHS.
Qualifications will also need to be verified prior to application by Ecctis, the UK’s regulated body for international academic vocational and professional qualifications.
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.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel, commented: “I am proud to be launching this new and exciting route as part of our points-based immigration system which puts ability and talent first, not where someone comes from.”