A simplified but “very selective” visa scheme to attract overseas graduates to the UK could help bridge the country’s skills gap, according to a leading immigration lawyer.
Those who have obtained a bachelor’s degree in the previous five years will be able to stay for two years and those with a doctorate can stay for three years. After that, individuals can apply for permanent leave to stay.
A new visa regime is planned to attract foreign graduates to fill the skills gap
Minister of Migration Kevin Foster said: “The new High Potential Individual route will make it as easy as possible for internationally mobile people who demonstrate high potential to come to the UK.
“This will allow those who have already demonstrated their potential through academic achievement to come to the UK without a prior job offer.
“This will be a very selective route with graduates from a limited number of eligible universities. The Home Office will update the list of eligible universities every year.”
Jonathan Beech, managing director of a specialized law firm Migrate to UK, said the new visa could help employers with severe skills shortages in areas such as IT, science and engineering.
He pointed out that the list of top 50 universities would be evaluated by the home office from global tables including the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankingand the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
50 universities will be offered the new visa regime
This year’s list, to be released at the end of the month, is expected to include the likes of MIT and Harvard University in the US, Peking University, University of Tokyo and Paris Sciences et Lettres. .
“Our estimate is that the new HPI pathway could be a huge potential source of talent for employers with a severe shortage of skilled workers, even if only a small proportion of graduates choose this visa to work overseas. Nearly 5.3 million graduates worldwide were enrolled at these 50 universities between 2017 and 2021,” Beech said.
“But even though this route will be in use in less than a month, most employers still did not know they could employ it when we raised it with them – and the Home Office did not not promote it.
“Yet we know that skills shortages continue to grow and not just in IT, science and engineering. For example, more than 800,000 vacancies are expected in the health sector alone next year. Employers with acute vacancies should therefore try to take advantage of this new HPI program.
“While this category does not lead directly to settlement and an applicant will need to change status to a category such as skilled worker if they wish to remain in the UK long-term, it does offer graduates and employers a promising new option.”
The Home Office said the cost of the new visa would be £715 and would be subject to the £624 annual immigration health surcharge.
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