'Best and brightest' | Why the UK's new foreign workers Visa scheme should have HR excited

Why the UK's new foreign workers Visa scheme should have HR excited

The UK Government has announced a new Visa scheme which could pave the way for more overseas workers to boost the nation’s talent pool.

The ‘High Potential Individual’ (HPI) initiative will permit anyone who has graduated in the past five years – from a set list of 'elite' global universities – to live and work in the UK for at least two years if they hold a Bachelors or Master’s degree, or three years if they obtained a PHD.

Crucially, a key difference from existing Visa schemes is that, under the new HPI route, those coming to the UK will not need to already have a job offer. And in another positive move, anyone who successfully applies, will be able to bring their partner and children with them.

Ministers hope the HPI plan, which launched this week, will attract the “brightest and best” at the beginning of their careers to work in the UK.

The HPI visas cannot be extended beyond their two-three year term, but anyone residing in the country under the scheme will be able to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa when the time comes.

Why HR should be interested

The new scheme has been launched at an opportune time, when many firms are still struggling to plug gaps in their talent pools. In fact, new data from Natural HR has revealed that more than two in five employers consider talent recruitment the most significant HR challenge they will face in 2022 and beyond.

And with this scheme potentially speeding up the process for highly skilled graduates to ease that burden, HR leaders should be keeping a keen eye on the situation.

As Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “This new visa offer means that the UK can continue to attract the best and brightest from across the globe. 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.”

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‘Welcome addition’

Charlie Pring, Employment Specialist at international law firm Taylor Wessing, told HR Grapevine that the High Potential visa was “a welcome addition to the immigration routes available to workers” that would provide greater flexibility for both workers and employers.

Pring said: “While the scheme is capped at two or three years in the UK, only rewards overseas degrees in the last five years from elite global universities and does not lead to settlement – and so is not as generous as the previous highly skilled visa schemes that closed many years ago – crucially it's a personal visa that doesn't require a job offer or visa sponsorship. And it provides total flexibility for the applicant, with employment or self-employment permitted.

“The current landscape requiring employers to sponsor visas for skilled roles in many cases has been a headache for some UK businesses. A new personal visa option to complement the post-study work visa introduced in 2021 for UK graduates is a positive development for UK business immigration policy, that has pushed many workers into sponsorship due to a lack of alternative routes.”

Pring concluded: “Employers will be pleased to see a cheaper and often faster alternative visa route for some new hires, especially start-ups or SMEs that either are not yet sponsors or that can't afford the higher sponsorship fees. International businesses that are launching into the UK for the first time and that need to grow quickly will also benefit from removing the initial delay and red tape involved with sponsorship."

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Comments (2)

  • Kristal
    Tue, 31 May 2022 1:00pm BST
    I think this is hugely discriminatory. Why is it only "elite" students? This just proves they had the money to go to an elite university, unless they managed to obtain a scholarship. Surely anyone who has a Bachelor's Master's or PHd from any University should be eligible?

  • Jo
    Tue, 31 May 2022 12:59pm BST
    How will this in any way address the chronic labour shortages we have across the board? It's absolute madness! This government really needs to read the room better; we have 1.295 million vacancies and 1.2 million unemployed - how is a slack handful of "brightest and best" going to help us grow back to where we were pre-pandemic? GDP and exports have taken a massive hit as a result of Brexit and we're not able to trade our way out of this and 1.295 million vacancies means 1.295 lots of income tax and NI not collected and 1.295 million lots of money going back into the economy. What a shambles.

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