High Potential Individual (HPI) visa: Everything you need to know


Feb 27, 2024

The High Potential Individual visa (or HPI visa) gives you permission to live and work in the United Kingdom for up to three years if you’ve graduated from a top university around the world. 

This UK visa allows talented postgrads to live and seek work in the UK based on their potential to innovate in their fields. It’s available to those who have graduated with a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD from a qualifying university within the last five years.

If you attended an eligible university on the HPI visa list, do you qualify for the visa? Do you need a job offer first? What other eligibility requirements do you need to meet to qualify for the HPI visa program? We’ll cover all that and more in this ultimate guide.

Who is eligible for the HPI visa?

To be eligible for the High Potential Individual visa, you have to have been awarded qualification from an eligible university within the last five years. Your qualification must come from an overseas school—it can’t be from a UK university and must be on the same level as:

  • A UK bachelor’s degree
  • A UK master’s degree
  • A UK postgraduate degree
  • A UK PhD or doctorate

Applicants must apply to Ecctis, a global service for qualifying international educational credentials, to make sure their qualification is at the right level.

Qualifying universities are announced each year and may vary based on the year in which you completed your studies. Check the visa requirements at gov.uk (and the list below) to make sure your university is on the list for the month and year you were awarded your qualification. 

Other eligibility criteria:

  • Age requirement: You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Prior visa requirement: You must not have been previously granted a Graduate Visa or entry into the UK under the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme.
  • English language requirement: You must demonstrate at least B1 level English proficiency if you are not from an English-speaking country.
  • Financial requirement: You need a minimum of £1,270 in your bank account for 28 days to show you can support yourself in the UK.
  • Security check: You must pass a security check required by the UK government for all visa holders.

What universities can you attend that qualify for the HPI visa?

Many schools around the world are eligible for the HPI visa route. Qualifying universities can change from year to year, so be sure to check the visa requirements at gov.uk.

For students graduating between Nov. 1, 2023 and Oct. 31, 2024, qualifying universities are:



California Institute of Technology (Caltech)


Columbia University


Cornell University


Delft University of Technology


Duke University


Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL Switzerland)


ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)


Fudan University


Harvard University


Johns Hopkins University


Karolinska Institute


Kyoto University


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


McGill University


Nanyang Technological University (NTU)


National University of Singapore


New York University


Northwestern University


Paris Sciences et Lettres - PSL Research University


Peking University


Princeton University


Shanghai Jiao Tong University


Stanford University


Technical University of Munich


Tsinghua University


University of British Columbia


University of California, Berkeley


University of California, Los Angeles


University of California, San Diego


University of Chicago


University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong

University of Melbourne


University of Michigan-Ann Arbor


University of Pennsylvania


University of Tokyo


University of Toronto


University of Washington


Yale University


Zhejiang University


What can you do on a High Potential Individual visa?

If you’re granted a UK High Potential Individual visa, you can stay for up to two years or three years if you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification. While in the UK, you can:

  • Seek work
  • Work in most jobs (with the exception of being a professional sportsperson)
  • Volunteer
  • Be self-employed
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK
  • Study (if your course of study isn’t eligible for a student visa)

If you have a partner or dependents (such as children), they can apply to join you in the UK. A dependent is:

  • Your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
  • Your child under 18, including children born in the UK during your stay
  • Your child over 18 if they turn 18 while living in the UK as your dependent

What can’t you do on the HPI visa?

While on the HPI visa, you cannot:

  • Work as a professional sportsperson
  • Apply for most benefits, including public funds and the State Pension
  • Extend the visa or apply for indefinite leave to remain or any other UK permanent settlement route

How to apply for a High Potential Individual visa

You can apply for the HPI visa from outside the UK, or, if you’re already living in the UK, you can switch to the HPI visa from another visa—given you meet the eligibility criteria.

The first step before applying for the HPI visa is applying to Ecctis to ensure your qualification is valid for the visa. You can apply online. The Ecctis application costs £210 if you’re applying from outside the UK and £252 from within.

Then, the visa application process is a bit different depending on whether you’re applying from outside or inside the UK:

If you’re applying from outside the UK:

If you’re applying from inside the UK:

  • Confirm your identity if needed, but if you already did so for your current UK visa, you can skip this step.
  • Once your identity has been confirmed, you can apply for the HPI visa online.

Note that if you’re switching from one of the following visas to the HPI visa, you’ll need to leave the UK and apply from abroad:

  • Graduate Route visa
  • Short-term student visa
  • Parent of a Child Student visa
  • Visit visa
  • Seasonal worker visa
  • Domestic worker in a private household visa

What documents do you need to apply for the HPI visa?

When applying for the HPI visa, you will need:

  • A valid passport or travel document
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) confirming your identity and any other documents that support your UK immigration status
  • Evidence that shows you meet the English language proficiency requirement
  • Academic Qualification Level Statement from Ecctis that shows your university qualification meets eligibility requirements for the visa
  • Evidence that you have sufficient funds in your bank account to support yourself financially in the UK
  • Medical records, if you’re from a country where these are required

If any of your documents aren’t in English or Welsh, you’ll need certified translations.

In addition to these documents, you’ll need to cover the costs and fees associated with the visa application. These include:

  • Ecctis verification: £210 (if applying outside the UK), £252 (if applying from within the UK)
  • HPI application fee: £715
  • Immigration healthcare surcharge: £624 per year you stay in the UK

Frequently asked questions about the HPI visa

How are the top-ranking universities chosen each year?

The global universities list includes institutions from around the world that have made the top 50 in two or more of the most prominent ranking systems for international universities: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

How long does it take to get the HPI visa?

Once you’ve finished your application and proven your identity, it typically takes three to eight weeks for the UK government to make a decision on your HPI visa. Those applying from outside the UK can expect their applications to take a bit longer to process than those applying from inside the UK.

How much does the HPI visa cost?

The costs and fees associated with applying for the HPI visa are:

  • Ecctis verification: £210 (if applying outside the UK), £252 (if applying from within the UK)
  • HPI application fee: £715
  • Immigration healthcare surcharge: £624 per year you stay in the UK

How long is the HPI visa valid?

The HPI visa is valid for two years for most visa holders or three years for those with PhDs or other doctoral qualifications. The HPI visa can’t be extended; however, if you wish to remain in the UK at the end of your HPI visa, you may be able to switch to another type of visa, such as a skilled worker visa, depending on your eligibility.

Can you study on the HPI visa?

You can only study on the HPI visa if your course of study is not eligible for a student visa. Otherwise, you’ll be required to obtain a student visa.

Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide or be relied on for tax, accounting, or legal advice. You should consult your own tax, accounting, and legal advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: February 27, 2024

The Author

Christina Marfice

Christina is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in Chicago. Having lived and worked in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, she’s bringing her expertise on hiring in Latin America to Rippling.