Scale-Up Visa Application Guidance
The Scale-up visa enables fast-growing UK businesses to recruit talented individuals to continue the growth of their business.
What is a Scale-up visa?
The Scale-up route allows talented individuals to work for a fast-growing business in the UK that holds a Scale-up sponsor licence. The worker is initially granted a period of leave to remain for 2 years, however, they are only required to be sponsored for the first 6 months.
Following the first 6 months, Scale-up workers can continue working without being sponsored or may change employment without sponsorship. This route affords greater flexibility whilst also allowing dependants and providing a route to settlement after 5 years.
Sponsoring a Scale-up Worker
The business must register as a Scale-up sponsor if it wishes to sponsor an individual under the Scale-up route.
As well as meeting the standard requirements for a sponsor licence, the business must show it is experiencing high-growth and is UK registered. It must meet the following criteria:
- the business has an annualised growth of at least 20% for the last 3-year period; based on either employment (staff count) or turnover, and
- they must have had a minimum of 10 employees at the beginning of the relevant 3-year period.
If it already holds a sponsor licence, it will need to apply to add the Scale-up route to the existing licence if it wishes to sponsor a Scale-up worker.
Scale-up visa: main requirements
An applicant must demonstrate the following requirements to qualify for a scale-up visa:
- they are aged 18 or over;
- they have been issued a Certificate of Sponsorship by their 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 must be at the required skill-level (RQF level 6 or above);
- the role must be 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 Scale-up application will allow an applicant to stay in the UK for an initial period of 2 years.
Unsponsored Scale-up Applications
A Scale-up worker must continue to be sponsored for the first 6 months of their initial 2-year grant of leave. Following this, they can pursue unsponsored work (including self-employment and voluntary work) and study (subject to ATAS conditions) inside the UK.
The worker can make an unsponsored Scale-up application for a further 3-year extension. For this application, they will need to show PAYE earnings in the UK in excess of £33,000 each year during at least 50% of their permission as a Scale-up worker. Whilst a Scale-up worker is free to commence self-employment, this cannot be relied upon in meeting the requirements for an extension. Once a worker has completed 5 years residence on the Scale-up route, they will be eligible for settlement provided they continue to meet the Scale-up requirements.
Scale-up visa applications: How our immigration solicitors can help
Our immigration solicitors are renowned for their expertise in assisting individuals and their organisations with sponsor licences and work visa applications. We provide support tailored to your individual needs to help secure a UK Scale-up visa.
If you or your organisation requires assistance in applying for a Scale-up visa, or if 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.
Scale-up Visa FAQs
Make an enquiry