The UK government has been trying to be innovative in its visa routes to bring more talents to the country who can contribute to the country's economic growth. In this effort, last year, in 2021, two new visa routes were announced, namely the High Potential Individual visa and the Scale-up visa.
The scale-up visa is a flagship visa included in the March 2022 Statement of Changes post Brexit. This much-awaited visa route will be open for foreign nationals, including EU nationals, from August 2022.
A Scale-up company means a company that has experienced a 20%+ annual growth rate in turnover OR team member numbers over the past three years. There must be at least ten employees employed in such companies at the beginning of the three years.
Scale up visa is a point-based visa route for foreign talents who have been sponsored by a scale-up in the Uk and who have the skills needed to enable the Scale-up business to continue growing. It is a five-year route to settlement.
At the beginning of the application, an applicant needs to be sponsored by his/her eligible Scale up employerin the UK, but then it transitions into an unsponsored route. A dependent partner and dependent children can join a Scale-up Worker on this visa route.
The Scale-up route has been promoted by the UK Government to complement other sponsored work routes like Skilled Worker and the new Global Business Mobility routes. There is no immigration skill charge, however, for scale-up visa applicants.
A Scale-up must issue a certificate of sponsorship with scaling up workers. Scale-ups need to meet the following conditions for this:
It must be an A-rated Scale that has not been withdrawn or previously used.
A scale-up must be authorised by the Home Office to sponsor the Job to a foreign scale up Worker.
A scale-up (company/sponsor) must show that there has been at least a 20% annual growth rate in turnover or employee numbers over the past three years and that they had at least ten employees at the beginning of the three-year period.
Sponsoring employers need to confirm that an applicant is expected to work for them for at least the first six months of their visa.
He/she must be aged 18 or over.
He/she must apply for and obtain entry clearance first before they arrive in the UK.
The applicant must be awarded 70 points.
An applicant must make either a sponsored application or an unsponsored application, and in both cases, they must be awarded 70 points from the below table.
An applicant must make an Unsponsored Application if they have been employed as a Scale- Worker by a sponsor for at least six months in previous permission on the Scale-up route
a. the applicant has permission as a Scale-up Worker on the date of application; or
b. the applicant last had permission as a Scale-up Worker; and
1. The permission expired less than six months before the date of application, and thus if
the applicant is applying for entry clearance; or
2. If the applicant is applying for permission to stay
a. If the application is sponsored, then the applicant must have a certificate of sponsorship, a Job at an appropriate skill level in an occupation code listed in Appendix Skilled Occupations that is identified as eligible for the Scale-up route and must be offered a reasonable salary which must equal or exceed the following – 50 points
1. £33,000 per year; and
2. £10.58 per hour; and
3. the going rate for the occupation code.
b. Unsponsored applicant must have had monthly PAYE earnings in the UK equivalent to at least £33,000 per year during at least 50% of their permission as a Scale-up Worker - 50 points
The other two requirements must be met by both sponsored and unsponsored applicants.
a. They must meet the English language requirement –10 points
b. They must meet the financial requirements – 10 points
In the first two-year, applicants need to meet conditions similar to other sponsored routes, which include a job offer, certificate of sponsorship from an eligible scale up sponsor, skill level, appropriate salary, as well as English language and finance requirements. The remaining three-year period allows existing Scale-up Workers the flexibility to stay without sponsorship, based on previous UK PAYE earnings.
Scale-up Workers will be allowed to switch to different sponsored roles in the first six months, and after being in a sponsored work for at least six months in the sponsored Job, they can undertake any employment, including self-employment and voluntary work. However, they cannot work as professional sportspeople or coaches.