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UK Scale-up Visa Requirements and Application

Last updated: 22 August 2022

The scale-up worker visa allows foreign nationals to come to the UK to work in an eligible job for a fast-growing UK business (also referred to as a ‘scale-up business’) for a period of at least 6 months. The scale-up visa is launched on 22nd August 2022 and it is intended to make it easier for UK businesses experiencing rapid growth to hire the best skilled labour from around the world. Uniquely, the rules allow scale-up visa holders to leave their sponsored role after 6 months and switch to an unsponsored role.

In order to be eligible for a UK scale-up visa, one of the most important requirements is that applicants must have a job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by an approved sponsor / employer. The sponsoring business must also be in the scale-up phase with a rapid growth. Unfortunately, as immigration lawyers, we cannot help you to find a job in the UK. Once you have a job offer from a scale-up business, we are able to help you with the scale-up visa application.

If granted, scale-up visa holders can stay for an initial period of 2 years, after which they can further extend their stay for an additional 3 years. After 5 continuous years of UK residence on a scale-up visa, holders can then apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Continuous residence means that you must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any consecutive year.

UK scale-up visa 2022 requirements

Applicants must meet below scale-up visa UK eligibility requirements:

  • have a job offer from an approved scale-up business lasting a period of at least 6 months
  • have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from their employer
  • have a job on the list of eligible occupations
  • meet the minimum salary requirements: £33,000 per year or £10.10 per hour or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work
  • meet the English language requirements
  • have sufficient funds to support themselves

What are scale-up companies / business

A scale-up company or business is one that, in the 3 years before gaining approval for a sponsor licence from the Home Office, had:

  • grown by 20% in each year in either employment or total sales (turnover)
  • at least 10 employees at the outset of the 3-year period

At present, it is believed that there are around 34,000 businesses that meet the criteria of a scale-up company.

To issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, scale-up businesses must be shown as A-rated on the list of approved UK sponsors (i.e. scale-up visa UK companies list). If you need help to apply for a sponsorship licence, please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

Eligible jobs for scale-up visa

In order to secure a scale-up visa, you must have a job on the list of eligible occupations. Your employer will be able to provide a 4-digit occupation code for your role, which you can use to check if your job is eligible.

Scale-up visa minimum salary requirements

As a scale-up visa applicant, you must be paid whichever is the higher of the following:

  • £33,000 per year
  • £10.10 per hour, or
  • the ‘going rate’ for your job.

The going rate for your job is provided on the list of eligible occupations.

Scale-up visa English language requirements

To meet the English language requirements for the scale-up visa, you must either:

  • come from an eligible country1
  • have a degree or higher taught in English
  • have a school level qualification gained by studying at a UK school that you began when you were under 18, or
  • pass an approved English test at CEFR level B1 or higher.

Sufficient support funds for scale-up visa

You must have £1,270 or more in your bank account and held these funds for at least 28 consecutive days before you apply. If you have already been in the UK for 1 or more years, you will not need to satisfy this requirement.

Scale-up visa sponsored route and unsponsored route

One of the unique features of the scale-up visa is that after the initial 6 months period in the UK, it is possible to switch to a different job or employer without sponsorship. This offers considerable flexibility for scale-up visa holders given that most employers in the UK do not hold sponsor licences and, therefore, the range of employment options becomes much wider. It is also possible to become self-employed after the initial 6-month period.

Those who change their job or employer after 6 months do not need to apply for a new visa. You will still need to meet the salary requirements, however, when you apply for your visa extension.

However, if you want to change your employer within the first 6 months after you get your scale up visa, you will need to tell the Home Office by applying online to update your scale up visa2. It is important to note that the new job from your new employer must still be on the eligible occupation list as well.

Scale-up Visa vs Skilled Worker Visa

Both visas are part of the Home Office’s points-based immigration system (PBS), and both require a sponsored job offer from a UK employer. As mentioned above, however, scale-up visa holders have the option to switch to a new job or employer after 6 months and no longer need to be sponsored at this point; Skilled Worker visa holders must remain sponsored.

The salary requirement for the Scale-Up visa is also higher at £33,000 compared to £25,600 for the Skilled Worker visa. Both visas also require applicants to meet English language requirements.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Our work visa immigration lawyers can handle any matters relating to the new scale-up visa. Contact our team if you need advice or help with:

  • Evaluating if the new Scale-Up visa will be suitable for your needs
  • Advise if there are other more suitable visa options given your circumstances
  • Checking whether your business will meet the likely criteria for the Scale-Up visa
  • Applying for a Scale-Up visa
  • Refusal of Scale-Up visa applications

References:

1 GOV.UK: Scale-up worker visa knowledge of English

2 GOV.UK: Update scale-up visa

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