A new Scale-Up work visa route is set to open on 22nd August 2022, aimed at those individuals who have high levels of skills and qualifications and are in receipt of an eligible sponsored job offer from a qualifying scale-up business.
What is the aim of the Scale-Up visa?
The Scale-Up visa was designed to make it easier and faster for companies experiencing rapid growth (i.e. those in the Scale-Up phase) to hire the best-skilled labour from around the world.
A 'Scale-Up' is a company that has experienced rapid growth and is ready to advance to the next stage of its commercial development. Such businesses are typically past the startup stage and have gained greater confidence in terms of return on investment.
Some industries (such as Fintech) are known to rely heavily on overseas skilled talent. The new Scale-Up visa is required to ensure that fast-growing companies do not have to relocate to another country to find the necessary skills.
Who can apply for a Scale-Up visa?
For the first six months, the applicant must have a sponsored job offer from an employer with the relevant 'Scale-up' Sponsor Licence for a role on the list of eligible 'Scale-up' roles. Additional work related to the sponsored role is permissible. Applicants must be paid at least £33,000 per year, £10.58 per hour (more than the Skilled Worker minimum general threshold), and the going rate for the occupation code (as determined by the role), and applicants must demonstrate that they earned at least £33,000 (excluding self-employment income) for at least 50% of their initial grant of leave to extend.
In addition, visa applicants will need to pass an English language proficiency requirement and meet the maintenance requirements.
What is an eligible Scale-Up company?
To sponsor an overseas worker under the UK Scale-Up visa scheme, an eligible scale-up company needs to satisfy certain criteria.
A Scale-Up company must demonstrate they have,
- at least a 20% annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a three-year period, and,
- have a minimum of 10 employees at the start of this period.
Will the Scale-Up visa count towards Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
This is a 5-year route to settlement. To meet the settlement requirements, applicants must demonstrate that they were paid a salary of at least £33,000 through PAYE during their most recent permission. Self-employment is not included in this figure. Applicants will be granted two years at first (as sponsored applicants) and three years on extension (unsponsored applicants). Scale-Up migrants, like Skilled Worker migrants, will be able to work, switch jobs, switch employers, extend, and settle in the UK if they meet the relevant requirements.
The UK company must be established in the UK and hold a Sponsor Licence. If you are in the UK as a High Potential Individual, you can also apply for this route from within the country.
What’s the difference between a Skilled Worker visa and a Scale-Up visa?
Both visas are part of the Home Office's points-based immigration system and necessitate a job offer from a UK employer.
The Scale-Up visa has a higher salary requirement of £33,000, compared to £25,600 for the Skilled Worker visa. Both visas also require applicants to be fluent in English.
Another possible distinction between these two schemes is the Scale-Up Visa application speed of processing. While specifics are not yet available, applications could be processed in a matter of days. Given the short window of time for securing skilled labour from overseas, this should ideally be within 72 hours, according to the Scale-Up Institute. This is in comparison to the three weeks typically taken under the Skilled Worker visa.
How 3CS can help
For further information on Scale-Up visas or any other immigration matter please contact a member of our team.