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.

Services and Industries

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