Scale Up Visa UK

What exactly is a Scale-up visa, and how does it work?

The Scale-up visa is a new immigration route for foreign employees that will be available on August 22, 2022. According to the Home Office, this is a visa path for high-growth enterprises looking to bring top talent to the UK. According to reports, the route provides sponsors with the flexibility that fast-growing businesses want and highly skilled migrants desire.

The Scale-up path consists of two steps, following which the migrant may be eligible for settlement:

  1. Two year sponsored stage
  2. Three-year unsponsored stage

Applicants who want to use this path must first submit a sponsored application with a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a Scale-up sponsor. The first visa is valid for two years, although the applicant is only required to work for the selected sponsor for the first six months. Following that, the worker seeks to extend their visa if their prior earnings surpassed the required income threshold.

The following are the primary benefits of the scale up visa route:

  • Sponsors of scale-ups are only obliged to sponsor workers for six months.
  • After six months, a sponsor’s administrative responsibilities are removed (see below).
  • Because there is no Immigration Skills Charge, sponsors can save up to £5,000 on visa expenses.
  • Workers have the choice to continue with the sponsor after the initial time or to go to work somewhere else. This brings a somewhat mobile set of employees into the UK labour market, with the option of working for organisations that may or may not obtain a sponsor licence.

What exactly is a "scale-up"?

A “scale-up” is essentially a high-growth corporation; a start-up in its teenage stage. The Home Office defines scale-up sponsors as organisations that satisfy both of the following requirements, in accordance with the definition approved by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development:

  • Annualised growth of at least 20% over the previous three years, measured by either employment count or turnover.
  • A minimum of ten employees at the commencement of the applicable three-year term.

At the time of writing, there were over 33,000 scaleups in the UK, with a combined turnover of approximately £1.1 trillion. They appear to rely substantially on foreign talent: 47% of those polled by the Scale-up Institute in 2021 use foreign workers and believe it is critical that they continue to do so.

What are your options if you have a Scale-up visa?

Successful candidates will be granted authorization and will be able to:

  • Work in the sponsored job for at least six months and may take up additional work during this time.
  • After six months, leave the sponsor to work elsewhere, including for organisations that do not have a sponsor licence.
  • Take on self-employment or volunteer work.
  • Study (subject to Academic Technology Approval Scheme requirements).

Applicants are permitted to sponsor dependent family members.

Applicants are not eligible for public money, and the professional sports ban remains in effect. Despite the fact that the rules still reference police registration requirements for certain nationalities.

How do you submit your application?

First, obtain a Scale-up licence.

For the Scale-up path, sponsors must have a current sponsor licence. Those who already have a general sponsor licence must add the Scale-up limb to their licence. Sponsors can apply for the Scale-up limb through the site, but they do not need to submit supporting evidence because the Home Office will review HMRC data immediately. Before applying, sponsors should check that their HMRC files are up to date, that there are no gaps in their HMRC records, and that any PAYE references in use are on their sponsor licence.

The Home Office will verify that the sponsor is solvent, has at least 37 months of HMRC history, and has at least 10 workers at the commencement of the three-year period. One of the following can pass the Scale-up test:

  • Employee growth: the average employment count in the most recent 12-month period must have increased by at least 20% each year from the beginning of the three years.
  • Turnover increase: meets or surpasses the most recent 12-month turnover growth of 20%.

The Scale-up licence, unlike other limbs, cannot be renewed after four years. This is classified as a temporary employment route by the Home Office, thus once the Scale-up limb is added, it is valid for four years. The Home Office anticipates that sponsors will request to be licenced via one of the other supported channels in order to continue sponsoring employees. The Home Office probably expects sponsors to only require this limb during a period of rapid expansion.

Then, apply to be a Sponsored Scale-up Worker.

To qualify for the sponsored stage, an applicant must earn 50 points by fulfilling the following requirements:

  • Certificate of Sponsorship provided by an A-rated Scale-up sponsor confirming the employment information and that they will be employed for at least 6 months.
  • Appendix Skilled Occupations role at a suitable skill level – note that this is at RQF Level 6 versus RQF 3 for Skilled Workers.
  • Being paid the proper wage – the higher of the general salary threshold of £33,000, the going rate for the applicant’s occupation code, and £10.10 per hour.

The Home Office will issue entrance clearance or permission to stay for two years if the applicant satisfies the conditions for the sponsored application. For the first six months, the candidate must work for the sponsor. If the worker decides to change employers, sponsors, or jobs within the first six-month period, they may require a new sponsorship certificate and must reapply for authorisation as a sponsored worker.



Apply to be an Unsponsored Scale-up Employee.

  • An candidate must meet the following requirements to be considered for the unsponsored stage:
  • As a Scale-up Worker, you already have authorization.
  • Have PAYE earnings in the UK of at least £33,000 per year for at least 50% of their Scale-up Worker permit (e.g. 12 months for someone having two years’ permission earlier).

If the applicant satisfies the unsponsored application standards, the Home Office will issue authorisation for three years.

It is important to note that there are rigorous limitations regarding the types of income that can be counted. In summary, the Home Office seeks basic gross salary as reported by PAYE. Applicants cannot include self-employment income (though self-employment is permissible under this option), as well as abroad income or savings. Furthermore, you cannot average profits over a 12-month period. When a month’s gross earnings are less than £2,750, they cannot be offset by earning more in future months. And, while there is no limit to the number of occupations that candidates can have, if they are claiming earnings from multiple jobs, they must be from distinct months. There is some wiggle room, so times of mandatory parental leave or sick leave are recognised as months in which the income criteria is reached.

The Home Office is working toward a system of directly verifying PAYE earnings with HMRC. As a result, practitioners may wish to check their PAYE earnings on the HMRC portal and/or produce the payslips that are depended on.

Other factors to consider

  • At the application stage, all of the standard rules apply, so double-check:
  • Appendix English language requirements can be satisfied. Applicants must demonstrate English language abilities at or above CEFR level B1 in all four components (speaking, listening, reading, writing).
  • Appendix Finance is a possibility. Unless the sponsor certifies upkeep on the Cos with the sponsored stage OR the application has been in the UK for 12 months or more, the applicant must prove at least £1,270.
  • The conditions for grounds of denial in Immigration Rules Part 9: grounds for refusal do not apply.
  • If criminal record certifications are required for candidates applying in certain SOC codes.
  • If letters mentioning recent scholarships are required.
  • Whether or whether the ATAS requirement is applicable.
  • If applying from an Appendix T nation, a TB test is required.

What about sponsor responsibilities?

  • Given that the route was designed to lessen administrative burdens on sponsors, the guidelines has been modified to reflect the changes introduced by the Scale-up path. It is worth noting:
  • Sponsors must indicate the commencement date of the Scale-up worker.
  • Sponsors must notify the Home Office if a worker fails to start, is absent from work, or if the nature of their labour or remuneration changes significantly.
  • When the Scale-up migrant departs, the sponsor is not required to inform the Home Office. In fact, the sponsor’s obligation for the Scale-up worker expires six months after the visa’s ‘valid from’ date. The Scale-up worker can remain with the sponsor or change jobs without having to reapply for authorisation.

Although the sponsor is no longer required to report on individual migrants after six months, other duties, such as a change of location or ownership, remain in effect.

How do you apply?

Applicants must use Form ‘Scale-up visa’ if applying from outside the nation, or Form ‘Scale up’ if applying from within the country. The form is simple and similar to a Skilled Worker application form. Before filling out this form, acquire the standard information such as parents’ information, travel/visa information, and work information.

Similar to other employment routes,’switching’ options allow for a change in visa type. You can switch from within the UK to a Scale-up route under paragraph SCU 1.5 if you are in the UK lawfully and have not previously been granted permission as a Visitor, Short-term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household, or outside the Immigration Rules.

On the normal service, decisions take three weeks, with various priority alternatives available.

What is the price?

The following are the fees:

  • The licence price is £536. (Temporary Worker licence application fee – there is no Government fee to add a Temporary Worker limb to the licence).
  • Sponsorship Certificate: £21 (Temporary Worker fee)
  • £715 application fee
  • The annual immigration health surcharge is £624.
  • The Immigration Skills Charge does not exist.

Finally, there are settlement applications.

This is a possible path to settlement. Scale-up candidates can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years of continuous residence in the UK, provided they fulfil all other conditions. They can combine time with other job categories, such as Skilled Worker, as they can with other work categories.

To be eligible for ILR, they must be working and earning a gross annual wage of at least £33,000 via PAYE at the time of application and for at least 24 months out of the three years before the application. This must be PAYE employment income, as with an extension application. Applicants who are unsponsored at the time of application cannot count self-employment income, savings, or abroad income.

Although this strategy offers sponsors much less red tape, the consequence is that sponsors will have less influence over the personnel they hire. Individual migrants may be required to work more if they are required to remain in PAYE employment earning above a certain wage for a set length of time. Employers should evaluate if they monitor Scale-up workers’ wage levels, absenteeism, and periods of unpaid leave. Although they are not compelled to do so, if a worker is not qualified to extend or settle, their work authorization may be disrupted.

It remains to be seen what influence this group of employees will have on the UK labour force, if this new method will benefit sponsors, and whether people will continue to work with sponsors once the six-month period is through.

For any other questions or immigration related law advice, get in touch today.