Points based system welcomes highly skilled grads to the UK

By Leon Morrison


Graduates from the world's top universities will be able to apply to come to the UK under a new visa scheme.

The government says the "high potential individual" route, which opens on Monday, will attract the brightest and best early in their careers. The scheme will be available to alumni of the top non-UK universities who graduated in the past five years. Graduates will be eligible regardless of where they were born and will not need a job offer in order to apply. Successful applicants will be given a work visa lasting two years if they hold a bachelor's or master's degree, and three years if they hold a PhD. They will then be able to switch to other long-term employment visas if they meet certain requirements.

To qualify, a person must have attended a university that appeared in the top 50 of at least two of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, or The Academic Ranking of World Universities in the year they graduated. The list of eligible universities from 2021, published online by the government, featured 20 US universities, including Harvard, Yale, and MIT. There were a further 17 qualifying institutions, including the University of Hong Kong, University of Melbourne, and the Paris Sciences et Lettres University. The visa will cost £715 plus the immigration health surcharge, a fee which allows migrants to the UK to use the NHS. Graduates will be able to bring their families, although must also have maintenance funds of at least £1,270. They will also have to pass a security and criminality check and be proficient in English to at least the B1 intermediate level, defined as having the "fluency to communicate without effort with native speakers". The scheme follows changes to allow foreign nationals to stay and work in Britain for up to two years instead of having to leave after finishing a degree. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "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 added: "I am proud to be launching this new and exciting route as part of our points-based immigration system which puts 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.This government is delivering for the British people by bringing in the high skills and talent our country and businesses need."

The UK Government is making the country the best place in the world for innovative and talented people to live, work and be successful – and to usher in an unprecedented new era of global collaboration and innovation. With record levels of investment into its research base, as well as being home to world-leading tech companies and four of the world’s top universities, the UK offers unique opportunities for recent graduates.

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