Getting to grips with . . .

What is the high potential individual visa scheme?

Top graduates from around the world will be able to live and work in the UK for up to three years

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

The opportunity will be available to the alumni of top non-UK universities who have graduated in the past five years, with graduates eligible for the visa “regardless of where they were born” and even if they do not hold a job offer, reported the BBC.

The Telegraph described the scheme as part of “a new post-Brexit immigration drive” designed to “attract skilled and talented workers from throughout the world” after EU nationals lost their automatic right to live, work and study in the UK when freedom of movement was scrapped.

But it will be seen in some circles as “part of an attempt by Boris Johnson to put partygate behind him” as he announces a blitz of policy initiatives to “show off the benefits of Brexit”.  

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the “exciting” new route was part of the government’s ambition to “put ability and talent first, not where someone comes from”.

Who will qualify?

Successful applicants to the scheme with a bachelor’s or master’s degree will be given a two-year work visa, while those with PhDs can apply for a three-year visa.

To qualify for the visa scheme a graduate must have attended a university that ranked 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 in which they graduated.

In 2021, the list of eligible universities, published online by the government, included 20 US universities including world-famous institutions such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford and Johns Hopkins. 

Seventeen other institutions qualified, such as the University of Hong Kong, the 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”, explained the BBC. Graduates will also be able to bring their families if they have maintenance funds of at least £1,270.

They will also be required to undergo 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 Telegraph reported that the scheme will be “uncapped”, so the number of graduates who come to the UK “will depend on demand”.

Who will miss out?

Some academics have criticised the government’s approach, and have “voiced their disappointment” that no South Asian, Latin American or African universities have been included on the list, said the BBC. 

Christopher Trisos, director and senior researcher at the University of Cape Town, told the broadcaster that if the UK wanted to be properly equipped to deal with the “major challenges” of the future, including energy supplies and climate change, “then they need to be recognising and including diverse skills and in-depth knowledge held by many graduates from universities in developing countries”.

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