22/08/2022

Applications open for the UK’s new Scale Up visa route

Applications for the UK’s new Scale Up visa route have opened today (22 August 2022) for those with highly skilled job offers in UK companies in their Scale Up phase. Evie Williams and Alex Christen sum up how it works.

What is the Scale Up visa?

The Scale Up visa is a work visa and route to settlement for those who have the highest qualification levels. The aim of the Scale Up visa is to make it easier for UK companies in the Scale Up phase to hire global talent to support their rapid growth. This visa is designed to be a ‘fast track’ route and offers an alternative to the Skilled Worker visa.

What are the eligibility criteria?

Workers

To qualify for a Scale Up visa, an individual must:

  • have a confirmed job offer to work an eligible occupation for an approved Scale Up company for at least 6 months;
  • have a Certificate of Sponsorship from their employer detailing the role they’ve been offered; and
  • be paid whichever is highest of £33,000 per year, £10.10 per hour or the ‘going rate’ for their type of work.

A list of eligible occupations and their going rates can be found here.

Scale Up Visa holders must remain employed by their sponsor for the original six months of their permission unless they make a separate application to amend their visa. Beyond this time, they can either continue working for their sponsor, change or stop working (without needing to inform the Home Office) or become self-employed.

Scale Up Companies

Sponsors must be a fast-growing business on this list of eligible employers. Eligible employers will be in the ‘Scale Up’ phase, a rapid period of growth following on from the ‘Start Up’ phase. It is expected that employers in the Tech and Fintech sector will be common sponsors and employers under this route.

Scale Up companies will have grown by 20% on average in each of the three years preceding their successful application in terms of either employment or turnover. They will also need to have had at least 10 employees at the start of that 3-year period.

What is the application and permission process?

The application process is online and can be started up to three months before the worker is due to start working in the UK. There is an application fee of £715 plus additional costs for healthcare surcharges and a need to evidence sufficient savings to sustain yourself in the UK.

The Home Office states that decisions should be made within 3 weeks if the application is made from outside the UK, and within 8 weeks if the application is made within the UK.

If permission is granted, the worker will be able to live, work and study in the UK. Workers with a Scale Up visa can bring their partners and children and dependents if they’re eligible. Workers on this type of visa can take on additional work beyond their sponsored work including voluntary work and becoming self-employed.

What are the advantages of the Scale Up visa route?

This new visa-type will sit alongside the Skilled Worker route and is intended to have the following advantages in comparison:

  • Workers aren’t bound to one employer, there is additional freedom under this route.
  • This route is an easy lead to settlement for the worker and their dependents after five years spent in the UK (this is not feature of the Global Business Mobility routes).
  • Eligible companies don’t need a sponsor licence to employ workers with a Scale Up visa after their initial 6 months working in the UK, allowing for quick and cost-effective recruitment.
  • This visa is exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge.
  • There is an option to switch to the Scale Up visa if the individual is already in the UK on a different type of eligible visa.

In theory, this visa type should make it substantially easier and quicker for Scale Up companies to grow their talent pool in line with their own growth to ensure they can attract and retain the highest skilled workers from around the world.

If you have any questions about this new route, or any other business immigration issue, please get in touch with a.christen@capitallaw.co.uk.