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UK Offers Elite US University Graduates an Easy Visa

Jun 6, 2022

Spoiler: No Job Required

Under a new policy change, graduates from top universities in the US and different parts of the world will be able to attain a visa from the UK, as reported by BBC News. In order to attract the “high-potential” and the “brightest and best” individuals, graduates from non-UK schools with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree will be given an opportunity to receive a two year visa. Those with a PhD will be offered a three year visa. The High Potential Individual visa application does not require a job offer.

However, according to the BBC, there are a few criteria that the applicant must meet to be eligible for the visa. Applicants must have attended a university or college that was ranked among the top 50 at least twice on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings or The Academic Ranking of World Universities. The ranking must have appeared the year the applicant graduated. Further, the applicant will need to pass a security and criminality check and demonstrate a level of proficiency described as “fluency to communicate without effort with native speakers.” The visa will cost £715 per person (plus the immigration health surcharge). Successful applicants will be able to bring their families if they have maintenance funds of at least £1,270.

On May 6th, 2022, the government released a list of establishments that appeared on two or more of the qualifying top 50 rankings. Of the 37 schools listed, 20 schools are from the US, and 17 schools are from Hong Kong, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Singapore, France, China, Australia, and Germany. Graduates of these schools qualify to apply for the visa.

Here are the 20 US schools on the list:

  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • New York University (NYU)
  • Northwestern University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • UC Berkeley
  • UCLA
  • UC San Diego
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Washington
  • Yale University

Some have expressed criticism over the exclusivity of the list, as “no South Asian, Latin American or African universities have been included on the list.” According to Business Insider, the director and senior researcher at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Christopher Trisos, pointed out that in order to address problems including access to energy, the climate crisis, and future pandemics, the government will need to start recognizing the “specialist skills and knowledge held by graduates in developing countries.”

This new program is a great opportunity for many recent graduates who wish to move to Europe, particularly given that it allows people to apply for a visa even before receiving a job offer. It also allows eligible candidates to bring their families, offering a degree of flexibility. It will also give England a leg up in attracting highly skilled workers in expanding fields. In Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s words, this track would allow the “UK [to] grow as a leading international hub for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.”

At present, only 37 universities are on the list, vastly limiting the scope of graduates who are eligible for the program. Further, the determinant criteria for those schools are arbitrary. Why did the British government choose the three specific rankings they did? Many different ranking systems are released every year. We encourage students to review the different criteria each ranking uses. Here is a summary of three ranking systems, the different criteria used in creating each, and the schools on their top 10 lists.

This visa is a great opportunity for many recent college graduates. We hope Britain widens its scope and adds well-deserving universities from all over the world to this list.

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