The ‘High potential individual’ route allows eligible individuals to come to the UK without a prior job offer

Graduates from the world’s top 50 non-UK universities can apply to come to Britain through a new visa system.

Ministers hope the “high potential individual” route, which starts on Monday, will attract the “brightest and best” at the start of their careers to work in the UK.

Successful applicants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree are granted a two-year work visa, while PhD holders can apply for a three-year visa.

Government guidelines state that beneficiaries can then “transfer to other long-term employment visas, if you meet the eligibility requirements”.

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

While the Home Office declined to comment on the number, the Telegraph reported that the visa regime would not be capped, meaning the number would depend on demand.

Eligible universities must be in the top 50 rankings of at least two of the following: Times Higher Education world university rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds world university rankings, of the Academic Ranking of World universities.

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

The government has also stipulated that candidates must pass a security and crime test and must speak, read, listen and write English at a minimum of B1 intermediate level.

The British Council, the UK’s International Organization for Cultural Relations and Education Opportunities, defines B1 intermediate level as “those who have the necessary fluency to communicate effortlessly with native speakers”.

The visa allows eligible persons to come to the UK without a prior job offer, and dependents are allowed to accompany them.

The visa costs £715 and is subject to the Immigration Health Fee, a fee paid by successful visas or immigration applicants enabling use of the NHS.

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

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, said: “This new visa offer means the UK can continue to attract the best and brightest people from around the world. The route means the UK will grow as a leading international hub for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

“We want tomorrow’s businesses to be built here today, so I’m calling on students to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to build their careers here.”

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said: “I am proud to launch this new and exciting route as part of our points-based immigration system that puts ability and talent first, not where someone comes from.”

The government’s points-based immigration system means that people coming to the UK for work must meet specific requirements for which they will score points, with visas awarded to those with sufficient points.

Visa scheme for graduates of top 50 non-UK universities has been launched | Universities | the guard

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