What is the Scale-up visa?
The new Scale-up visa route launched on 22 August 2022 with the aim of helping the UK’s top growing businesses to employ top talent across the globe in professions including scientists, engineers, programmers, software developers, research/development professionals, and other similar roles who currently form part of the shortage of professionals in the UK.
This new visa essentially creates greater flexibility for sponsors to tempt the world’s top talented individuals to relocate to the UK with a view of boosting the UK’s economy and growing its businesses.
Who will be able to hire through the Scale-up route?
A sponsor licence under this route is only available for businesses which meet the “Scale-up” criteria in the three-year period immediately prior to submitting the application. A scale-up business must have:
- grown by 20% on average in each year in either employment or total sales (turnover)
- had at least 10 employees at the start of the 3 year period
Businesses which already hold a sponsorship licence in a different category can apply to add the Scale-up visa route to their existing licence provided they also meet the above criteria.
Scale-up Worker Visa - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a Scale-up Worker visa?
This category of visa allows individuals to come to the UK to do an eligible job for fast-growing UK businesses considered to be a “Scale-up” business.
What are the Scale-up Worker visa requirements?
To be successful, an applicant must be aged 18 or over and score at least 70 points under the Points-based System. These points are attributed to the migrant by meeting the following mandatory requirements:
- The migrant must have a confirmed job offer to work for an approved Scale-up business for at least 6 months and a “Certificate of Sponsorship” from the employing company with the information about the role offered in the UK
- The migrant must have a job offer to do a job that is on the eligible occupations
- The migrant must be paid whichever is the highest of the following 3 options:
- £33,000 per year
- £10.10 per hour
- The “going rate” for the job in the eligible occupations
- The migrant must meet the Knowledge of English requirement
Upon meeting the requirements, sponsored individuals will receive an initial 2 years’ leave to remain in the UK and the opportunity to switch employer without requiring further sponsorship or permission to remain in the UK, provided they complete months with their initial sponsor.
What happens to my visa if I change my job in the first 6 months?
If the employment with the initial Scale-up sponsor terminates before the initial 6 months of sponsorship, to remain eligible under the same route, an individual must obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship from a new employer and apply for a new Scale-up Worker visa. The role with the new employer must still be on the eligible occupations table and the new employer must issue a new Certificate of Sponsorship.
If the employment with the initial Scale-up sponsor is terminated after the initial 6 months of sponsorship, an individual will not need to obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship and can seek employment in another highly skilled role with a different company.
Can I extend my Scale-up visa?
Scale-up visas can be extended provided that both the following requirements are met:
- An individual worked for their initial sponsoring company for at least 6 months before changing employer;
- An individual must have earned a monthly salary equivalent to at least £33,000 per year during at least half of their most recent stay under the route.
As with many other visa routes, after 5 years, an individual may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK.
On first impression, the Scale-up route appears to provide a cheaper, faster and less burdensome option for qualifying businesses. For example, the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC), a fee paid by sponsors for workers sponsored longer than 6 months (£364 per year for small-medium sized businesses and £1,000 per year for large businesses), is not chargeable under the Scale-up route.
However, the UK labour market has a pool of opportunity for highly skilled migrant workers already inside or outside the UK. Eliminating the need for sponsorship after 6 months of being sponsored on a Scale-up visa presents the risk of the migrant worker leaving to work for another employer.
The Scale-up visa is likely to introduce competition between the UK’s many start-up businesses to compete for internationally sought highly skilled workers.
We always advise businesses embarking on the convoluted process of applying for a sponsor licence to refrain from applying without the assistance of our UK immigration team, as the application fees are non-refundable and mistakes/omissions on applications are not taken lightly by UKVI. We can assist with the process of applying for a Scale-up Sponsorship Licence as well as assisting with the Scale-up worker visa application.