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Scale-up Visa UK

The new Scale-up visa is designed by the UK government to help a UK employer to benefit from talented overseas workers who can help them scale up business – this is especially helpful for companies experiencing rapid growth.

Launched in 2022, the Scale-up route is one of the UK immigration routes that can lead to indefinite leave to remain and eventually British citizenship. It also allows Scale up visa holders to bring dependents to the UK.

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    The Scale-Up visa

    It is expected that the new scale-up visa route will play an important part in improving the skill level of many industries within the UK. The ability to employ a high-skilled overseas worker for a sponsoring employer could help to improve business as well as raising the average minimum skill level within the company.

    For many businesses the introduction of the new scale-up visas could encourage them to keep their base in the UK in their bid to find the best skilled labour market.

    Additionally, this new UK immigration route also offers opportunities for overseas workers with the appropriate skill level to benefit from a high skilled job offer.

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    What can you do with a Scale-up visa?

    The new Scale-up visa can appear complicated at first glance but it is designed to offer a five-year route to permanent residence in the UK.

    Initially, the scale-up worker must be employed in the role provided by their UK scale up sponsor for six months.

    Once this has passed, the UK Scale-up visa holder is able to undertake any work and for any employer – this includes taking on a voluntary role or self employment. However, during this unsponsored phase they must demonstrate they had received a monthly guaranteed basic gross pay as you earn (PAYE) earnings in the UK equivalent to at least £33,000 per annum during at least 50% of their two-year permission as a Scale-up visa worker.

    Once the scale up worker has spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK, they are apply to apply for leave to remain status as long as they can evidence the following:

    • Meet the knowledge of English life requirements
    • Be employed in the UK with a yearly salary of at least £33,000
    • Have had monthly guaranteed basic gross PAYE earnings in the UK equivalent to at least £33,000 per year during at least 24 months of the 3 years immediately before the date of the indefinite leave to remain application.

    Eligibility for the Scale-up visa

    In order to be eligible for a Scale-up visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration of the following:

    • You are aged 18 or over;
    • You have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship issued by your UK sponsoring employer for the job you are planning to do when you come to the UK
    • The job you are planning to do is genuine
    • The job you are planning to do is at an appropriate skill level to your abilities
    • Your salary will be equal to or exceed both £33,000 per year, £10.58 per hour and is the ‘going rate’ for the job
    • You have sufficient English language ability to at least CEFR Level B1
    • You have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds during your time in the UK

    Certificate of Sponsorship requirement for the scale up route

    Anyone applying for a Scale up visa with a UK scale up sponsoring employer will need to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship.

    This important document will be issued by a UK employer and will include details of the job you will do on your arrival in the UK.

    The Certificate of Sponsorship must be issued by an scale up business that has been approved by the Home Office to sponsor

    In order to obtain a Scale-up Visa via a Sponsored Application you will need to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job you are planning to do.

    Your Certificate of Sponsorship will need to have been issued by an employer that has a sponsor licence authorised by the Home Office.

    To be given a scale-up sponsor licence, your employer will need to show they have a yearly growth of at least 20 per cent over the past three years – this can be based on turnover or staff. A qualifying scale up business must also have at least 10 employers at the start of the three years.

    Your Certificate of Sponsorship must include the following information to be valid for your scale up application:

    • Details of name, job and salary including occupation code
    • Confirmation you plan to work for your UK scale up sponsor for at least 6 months
    • A start date which is no more than 3 months after the date of your Scale-up Worker Visa application
    • Confirmation that the CoS has not been used in a previous application which was either granted or refused and has not at any point been withdrawn by the sponsoring employer or cancelled by the Home Office.

    CoS

    Scale-up worker and the genuine job requirement

    Part of your application for the scale up visa involves proving to the Home Office that your job meets the scale-up worker requirement for a genuine role.

    If the Home Office suggests you are applying for a scale-up visa but do not have a real job offer in place then immigration rules mean you would not be granted entry clearance.

    If there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job you are being sponsored to do does not exist, is a sham or has been created mainly so that you can apply for a Scale-up visa then your application will be refused.

    Your application will also be checked to ensure that you will not be working for a third party who is not your sponsor employer or that you will perform contract work which involves undertaking an ongoing role or providing an ongoing service to a third party who is not your sponsor.

    Scale-up visa salary requirement

    In order to obtain a Scale-up Visa , the salary for the job you are being sponsored for must equal or exceed both £33,000 per year, £10.58 per hour and must be seen as the going rate for the role.

    The assessment of salary is based on guaranteed basic gross pay (up to 48 hours per week) and does not include any additional pay or benefits such as pension, dental insurance or commission.

    The Home Office has produced a list of going rates based on Scale-up visa job occupation codes and monthly PAYE earnings. Each rate provided is based on a 37.5 working week but positions with less hours/more hours must be pro-rated to ensure they met the required income/salary paid.

    Scale-up visa financial requirement

    When you apply via the scale up visa route you will need to ensure that you can meet the scale up visa financial requirement. This means you will need access to cash funds of at least £1,270.

    You must have had these funds for at least 28 consecutive days in the run-up to the date of application for the scale up visa. You will need to provide evidence of this by providing bank statements etc.

    However, you are exempt from this scale up visa requirement if your scale up visa work sponsor will meet your maintenance costs for your first month of employment in the UK. You will need to ensure that your sponsor provides this commitment on your CoS submitted with your scale up visa form.

    You are also exempt if you have already been living in the UK for at least 12 months or more at the time of making your scale up application.

    Can the Scale-Up visa be extended?

    The Scale-Up visa offers a 5 year residency. The UK requires visa holders to have lived/worked at least 5 years in Britain to qualify for settlement status.

    It is believed that the Scale-Up visa will allow a visa extension, however if candidates and dependents can prove they have met the eligibility requirements throughout their residency, an extension should not be required during the scale up phase.

    Can I bring dependents on a scale up visa route?

    It is possible to bring dependent family members to the UK if you have a scale up visa. All dependents must apply for separate visas and meet eligibility and financial requirements before they travel to the UK.

    Your dependent partner will need to complete a separate application and include your scale up visa applicant number. This is referred to as a Global Web Form or a Unique Application Number (UAN). It will be included on all correspondence with the Home Office concerning your scale up visa application.

    The following qualify as dependents:

    • A spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner
    • A child under 18
    • A child over 18 if they are currently in the UK as your dependant

    You will need to prove your relationship with dependent scale up visa applicants and they may need to include the following supporting documentation:

    • Marriage certificate
    • If not married – evidence you have been in a relationship for at least 2 years – this can be joint bank statements, shared tenancy agreement etc
    • Birth certificates for children

    If your child is 16 or over, they must:

    • Live with you (unless they are at boarding school, college, or university)
    • Be unmarried and have no children
    • Be financially supported by you

    If your child lives with you, you will need to provide evidence of their address such as:

    • A bank statement
    • Credit card bills
    • Driving licence
    • NHS registration document
    • An official letter from their university or college

    Cost of UK Scale-up visa

    There are costs associated with applying for the scale up visa. You will need to ensure they you are able to pay the following at the time of making your scale up visa application:

    • The scale-up worker application fee of £259
    • The healthcare surcharge which is currently £624 per year – this allows you to access certain healthcare services during your time in the UK.

    In addition, you must also meet the financial requirement of the scale up worker visa route of having a minimum of £1,270 in your account for at least 28 days.

    Your dependent partner and other dependent family members must have a sufficient amount of money available to support themselves while they are staying in the UK plus they will need to pay the following application fees:

    • £285 (for partner)
    • £315 (for a single child)
    • £200 (for each additional child)

    Timescales for scale up visa

    It is expected that timescales for processing scale up worker visas will be quicker than skilled worker visa applications. The anticipated turnaround from the date of application and being granted entry clearance is expected to be around 72 hours compared to weeks for a skilled worker visa applicant.

    Differences between the Scale-up visa and the Skilled Worker visa

    Both the Scale-up visa and Skilled Worker visa allow applicants to benefit from working in the UK and they both offer a route to ILR status.

    There is also a similar process for applying for either visa – although the salary requirement for the Scale-Up visa is higher( £33,000) than the Skilled Worker visa (£25,600).

    Another major difference is the Skilled Worker visa takes around 3 weeks to be processed, while the scale-up visa is expected to offer a decision within 72 hours.

    Scale-up worker to ILR route

    If you wish to gain indefinite leave to remain status as a scale up visa holder then you will need to meet the following criteria:

    • Have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK
    • The 5-year continuous period has comprised time spent with permission in any of the following UK visa routes :
      • Scale-up
      • Skilled Worker
      • Global Talent
      • Innovator
      • Minister of Religion
      • International Sportsperson
      • Representative of an Overseas Business, as a Tier 1 Migrant, other than Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
    • You are in employment in the UK on the date of ILR application with a salary paid through PAYE of at least £33,000 per annum
    • You have had monthly PAYE earnings in the UK equal to at least £33,000 per year during at least 24 months of the last 3 years immediately before the date of application;
    • You meet the Life in the UK requirement

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              Frequently Asked Questions

              It is unlikely that many applicants will need to speed up their visa application as the turnaround time is expected to be 72 hours. It is not yet known whether or the UK scale-up visa visa will have a ‘super priority service’ option available. However, if it does then this will involved an additional fee.

              Yes – it is possible to bring dependents if you are a Scale-up visa holder. They will need to make an application and pay the associated fees as well as submitting supporting documents to prove their relationship to you.

              The Scale-up visa is a route to gaining indefinite leave to remain in the UK and British citizenship.

              You must complete Form Set(O) if you wish to ILR status while in the UK on the Scale-up visa route.

              Yes – unless you qualify for an exemption then you must pass the Life in the UK test and submit evidence of passing the test when applying for the Scale-up visa.

              You must be in employment in the UK with a salary paid through PAYE of at least £33,000 per year to qualify for a UK Scale-up visa.