Scale-Up Sponsor Licence
The Scale-up route enables fast-growing UK businesses to recruit talented individuals to continue the growth of their business.
What is a Scale-up Sponsor Licence?
Organisations that wish to sponsor individuals on the Scale-up route must obtain a Scale-up sponsor licence. In addition to the general requirements for a sponsor licence, the organisation must be able to evidence that it has experienced fast growth over the last 3 years.
If the application is successful, the organisation can then recruit overseas workers under the Scale-up route.
The worker would need to apply for a Scale-up visa which, once approved, would grant a period of permission to stay for 2 years.
The worker is then only required to be sponsored for the first 6 months. Following this, they can continue working without being sponsored, or may change employment without sponsorship. This route affords greater flexibility whilst also providing a route to settlement after 5 years. Qualifying family members can accompany the worker.
What are the main requirements for a Scale-up Sponsor Licence Application?
Before being able to sponsor individuals under the route, the organisation must register as a Scale-up sponsor. If the organisation already holds a sponsor licence, it will need to apply to add the Scale-up route to its existing licence. The Scale-up route is classed as a ‘Temporary Worker’ route for the purposes of applying for a sponsor licence.
The Scale-up route has requirements over and above the standard requirements for a sponsor licence. The organisation must be UK registered and be able to show that it is experiencing high growth as follows:
- it has an annualised growth of at least 20% for the last 3-year period, based on either employment (staff count) or turnover, and
- it had a minimum of 10 employees at the beginning of the relevant 3-year period.
UKVI will need to access PAYE information and VAT returns to be satisfied that the organisation’s staff count, or turnover meets the necessary requirements.
Providing the application is successful and the organisation continues to be A-rated, they may then sponsor a Scale-up worker.
Scale-up visa Requirements
Following the job offer, the worker will need to apply for a Scale-up visa. The organisation must be mindful of the requirements for this visa type when making recruitment decisions. The requirements for applicants are broadly as follows:
- they are aged 18 or over;
- they have been issued a Certificate of Sponsorship by the Scale-up sponsor, confirming sponsorship for at least 6 months;
- the role is eligible as per Appendix Skilled Occupations (not all roles can be sponsored under the Scale-up route);
- the job offer is at the required skill-level (RQF level 6 or above);
- the role is at the appropriate salary, which is £33,000 per year, £10.10 per hour, or the ‘going rate’ for the occupation code, whichever is highest;
- they meet the required level of English language (minimum Level B1 of the CEFR); and
- they have enough funds to support themselves unless certified by the sponsor.
A Scale-up applicant will need to apply for their visa from outside the UK, unless they are in the country on a visa which allows them to switch categories. A successful application will allow the applicant to stay in the UK for an initial period of 2 years, however an organisation is only required to sponsor them for the first 6 months.
Pros and Cons of the Scale-up Route
The Scale-up route aims to provide greater flexibility for businesses in recruiting top talent. The key advantages for eligible sponsors include:
- The Immigration Skills Charge does not apply. This is usually either £364 or £1000 each year.
- Sponsorship duties end after the first 6 months. This reduces the administrative burden of employing overseas talent.
- Applications are fast-tracked.
The main drawback to this route is that not all organisations will be able to satisfy the growth necessary for a Scale-up sponsor licence. Additionally, those who are eligible may be concerned that workers will be less inclined to stay in their role, given the open-ended nature of this visa.
Scale-up Sponsor Licence: How our immigration solicitors can help
Our immigration team are renowned for their experience in sponsor licences and provides comprehensive support with all aspects of obtaining and maintaining a licence. We provide expert support in securing a Scale-up sponsor licence or adding the Scale-up route to an existing licence.
If your organisation requires legal assistance to apply for a sponsor licence, or you would just like to discuss your situation with one of our experts on a no-obligation basis, please call us or complete our enquiry form below.
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