April 08, 2022

UK Immigration: Understanding the New Scale-Up Visa

What is a Scale-Up visa?

The Scale-Up visa is a route which enables businesses in the U.K. to recruit talented foreign nationals who have the skills needed to allow the Scale-Up business to continue growing. One of the main benefits of the visa is its exemption from the Immigration Skills Charge. The Scale-Up visa is a route to settlement in the U.K.

How can a business become a Scale-Up sponsor?

To qualify as a Scale-Up sponsor, a business will need to demonstrate:

  • An average annual turnover and/or employee growth rate of at least 20% for the preceding three-year period.
  • A minimum of 10 employees at the beginning of the three-year period.

The business must be authorised by the Home Office to sponsor employees via the Scale-Up route, and it must hold an A-rated Sponsor Licence.

Who is eligible for the Scale-Up visa?

To qualify as a Scale-Up worker, an applicant must be aged 18 years or over on the date of application and have:

  • A job at an appropriate skill level.
  • A salary which meets all of three of the following: at least £33,000 per annum (guaranteed basic gross pay) and £10.58 an hour and the going rate for the occupation code.
  • An English language ability in all components of at least level B1.
  • If the applicant has not been in the U.K. for 12 months, a financial requirement that they have held funds of at least £1,270 for 28 days or are certified by the A-rated sponsor.

How will the Scale-Up visa work?

For the first six months of their residence in the U.K., the Scale-Up worker must be employed in the job for which they are sponsored. After this initial six-month period, the worker will be permitted to undertake any work and for any employer, including voluntary and self-employment (except for as a professional sportsperson or sports coach).

The Scale-Up visa is a five-year route to settlement, which is split into two stages:

  • In the first stage, the sponsored worker stage described above, a worker is granted permission to stay for a two-year period if the above eligibility requirements are met.
  • The second stage, the unsponsored worker stage, consists of a further three-year period and allows existing Scale-Up workers to remain in the U.K. unsponsored. The applicant must demonstrate they had received a monthly guaranteed basic gross pay as you earn (PAYE) earnings in the U.K. equivalent to at least £33,000 per annum during at least 50% of their two-year permission as a Scale-Up worker.

After the worker has spent a continuous and eligible five-year period in the U.K., the Scale-Up worker can apply for Settlement in the U.K. To be eligible, the worker must: (i) meet the knowledge of life in the U.K. requirements, (ii) be in employment in the U.K. with a salary of at least £33,000 per annum and (iii) have had monthly guaranteed basic gross PAYE earnings in the U.K. equivalent to at least £33,000 per year during at least 24 months of the three years immediately before the date of the settlement application.

Successful applicants of the Scale-Up visa can bring dependent family members, including spouses, partners and children. This is subject to relationship, age, care and finance requirements.

Related Legal Services

The Faegre Baker Daniels website uses cookies to make your browsing experience as useful as possible. In order to have the full site experience, keep cookies enabled on your web browser. By browsing our site with cookies enabled, you are agreeing to their use. Review Faegre Baker Daniels' cookies information for more details.