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Scale-Up Visa UK

If you’re a highly skilled foreign national looking to join a growing business in the UK, you may be eligible for the Scale-Up pathway to immigration.

For more information about the Scale-Up visa, what you need to be eligible for it, or any other question regarding coming to live and work in the UK, speak to one of our immigration advisers on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online.

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    Overview of the Scale-Up Visa

    The UK Scale-Up visa is one of the visas introduced as part of the UK government’s post-Brexit immigration plans, alongside visas such as the Senior or Specialist Worker visa and the High Potential Individual visa.

    It is primarily aimed at foreign workers who have the skills and abilities to support scale-up businesses in the UK, particularly ones experiencing rapid rates of growth in their sectors. These businesses will also act as sponsors to allow foreign skilled workers to travel to the UK.

    The visa consists of a five-year route that eventually leads to the candidate being able to permanently settle in the UK. The visa also allows candidates to bring family members such as their spouses and dependent children to the UK also.

    In order to be eligible for the Scale-Up visa, candidates must have a highly-skilled job offer from a qualifying Scale-Up business that also meets the minimum salary requirements.

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    How Does the Scale-Up Visa Work?

    The Scale-Up visa consists of two separate stages.

    The first stage is two years long and requires a job offer from an eligible UK Scale-Up sponsor. This job offer must meet the minimum requirements of sponsorship, skill level and salary, while the candidate must satisfy the minimum financial and language requirements to be eligible.

    During the first six months of this initial two year stage, Scale-Up workers will be able to freely switch between different sponsored roles in different companies. After the six months are over, the Scale-Up worker may then undertake any work (including self-employed or voluntary work) they like, except work as a professional sportsperson or coach.

    The second stage to the visa is three years long and allows existing Scale-Up workers to stay and work in the UK without employer sponsorship.

    However, the visa holder must demonstrate that they had earned a guaranteed basic gross pay as you earn (PAYE) salary equivalent to at least £33,000 per annum for the initial two years of their visa permission.

    After this five year period has been completed, the Scale-Up worker may then be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK if they satisfy all of the eligibility criteria to do so.

    Who Can Apply for a Scale-Up Visa?

    In order to be eligible for a Scale-Up visa, you must fulfil the following eligibility criteria:

    • You are aged 18 or over
    • You have a valid certificate of sponsorship issued by an eligible UK Scale-Up business for the job you are planning to do
    • The job you are planning to do is genuine
    • The job you are planning to do is at an appropriate skill level (level 6 or higher on the Registered Qualifications Framework, or RQF)
    • Your salary will be equal to or exceed all of the following:
      • £33,000 per year
      • £10.58 per hour
      • The ‘going rate’ for the job
    • You meet the minimum language requirements (at least CEFR Level B1 or higher, which is equivalent to IELTS 4.0)
    • You have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds
    • You have provided a valid tuberculosis certificate, if you’re from one of the required countries

    What Are the Certificate of Sponsorship Requirements?

    An important aspect of the Scale-Up visa is the certificate of sponsorship issued by an eligible business that will allow the Scale-Up worker to travel to the UK and start work under the visa.

    Only businesses that are listed as A-rated on the Home Office’s register of licensed sponsors are capable of issuing certificates of sponsorship for the Scale-Up visa.

    In addition, businesses will need to demonstrate that they had an annual growth of at least 20% in the previous 3-year period in terms of overall turnover or staffing. They must also have had a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the 3-year period.

    Once a business successfully acquires an A-rated sponsorship licence, it may sponsor visa candidates for up to 6 months in an occupation that is at least level 6 or higher on the Registered Qualifications Framework (RQF). This role must also meet the minimum salary requirements of being at least £33,000 and £10.58 an hour, as well as exceeding the ‘going rate’ for the job.

    The certificate of sponsorship must have been issued no more than 3 months prior to the candidate’s application date for the Scale-Up visa.

    In addition to this, the certificate must contain key information such as the following:

    • Details of the candidate’s name, job and salary
    • Confirmation that you are expected to work for the business that’s sponsoring you for at least 6 months
    • Confirmation that the start date for the role is no more than 3 months after the date of the candidate’s date of application
    • Confirmation that the certificate of sponsorship has not been used in a previous application which was either granted or refused and has not been withdrawn by the sponsor or cancelled by the Home Office

    What Are the Job Requirements for the Scale Up visa?

    Jobs offered by business sponsors must fulfil a couple of requirements in order to be eligible for the Scale-Up visa scheme.

    Firstly, the job offered must be genuine. If the Home Office has any reason to believe in your application that the job you’ve been offered is not genuine, fraudulent, or has been created with the sole intention of enabling you to get a Scale-Up visa, then your application may be refused.

    The Home Office must also be satisfied that you will not be entered into an arrangement where you will fill a position, undertake contract work or provide routine services to a third party that is not the sponsor stated on the certificate of sponsorship.

    In addition to this requirement, the job you are taking must meet the minimum skill level for the Scale-Up visa (at least RQF level 6 or higher).

    You will normally automatically meet the minimum skill level for the Scale-Up visa if the role you’ve been offered is on the eligible list of jobs for the Scale-Up route on the UK government’s website. This list also includes information such as occupation codes, job types and related job titles.

    Note that your employer must select the appropriate occupation code for the role they are sponsoring you for. The Home Office may refuse your visa application if they believe that your employer has selected an incorrect or inappropriate occupation code.

    When assessing your visa application, the Home Office will check things such as if the business has a genuine need for the job described, if you have the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed, and if the business has had any previous known examples of non-compliance with immigration.

    What Are the Language Requirements for the Scale Up Visa UK?

    Part of the eligibility criteria for the Scale-Up visa is for candidates to meet the minimum language requirements.

    To qualify for the visa, you must demonstrate that your English language ability is equivalent to, or higher than, level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This is equivalent to IELTS 4.0.

    You must also demonstrate that you meet this level in all 4 key components: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

    However, you may not have to prove your English language proficiency if any of the following apply to you:

    • You’re a citizen of a majority English-speaking country
    • You’ve passed a Secure English Language Test (SELT)
    • You’ve been awarded a post-secondary degree that was taught in English
    • You’ve obtained a GCSE, A Level or Scottish Higher while at school in the UK
    • You’ve already demonstrated that you meet the minimum requirements when you were previously granted entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK

    Get in touch with our immigration experts for assistance with your Scale-Up visa application today. Contact Us

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      How Do I Apply for a UK Scale Up Visa?

      Scale-Up visa applicants must apply for the visa online. You may apply from either outside or inside the UK.

      As part of the Scale-Up visa application process, you must provide a range of documents to prove your identity and that you meet the minimum eligibility language, financial, job and sponsorship requirements.

      You may also be required to attend an appointment at a local visa application centre in order to give your biometrics information in the form of your fingerprints and photograph.

      If you’re applying to switch to the Scale-Up route from another immigration route from inside the UK, you must not have been granted permission as a visitor, a short-term student, a parent of a child student, a seasonal worker, a domestic worker, or leave outside the immigration rules.

      How Much Does the Scale-Up Visa Cost?

      The Scale-Up visa costs £715 to obtain for you and any dependents who may be coming with you to the UK.

      You will also need to pay the annual immgiration healthcare surcharge, which is £624 for every year you’ll be in the UK.

      Note that you must also meet the minimum financial requirements to be eligible for the Scale-Up visa. The minimum amount of funds you must have to be eligible for the Scale-Up visa is £1,270.

      You will need to have had this money for at least 28 consecutive days within the 31 days prior to date when you apply for the Scale-Up visa.

      However, you will be exempt from this requirement if the business sponsoring you is also willing to provide maintenance costs up to the end of your first month of employment. This may be for up to an amount of at least £1,270, and will need to be confirmed on your Certificate of Sponsorship.

      Additionally, you will not need to show proof of funds if you’re applying for permission to stay in the UK and you’ve already been in the UK for 12 months or more at the date of your application.

      Can I Bring Family Members to the UK on a Scale-Up Visa?

      Yes, you will be able to bring your dependent spouse or partner and dependent children with you to the UK on a Scale-Up visa.

      Any family member who comes to the UK with you must meet the relationship, age, care and financial requirements to be eligible to accompany you.

      In terms of the financial cost, this will be £285 for a dependent partner, £315 for the first dependent child, and £200 for each additional dependent child.

      Note that your sponsor will only be able to certify the finance requirement for your dependents if the date of application is at least one month before the end of the minimum six months that you must work for the sponsor.

      Dependent partners or spouses will also be able to apply for settlement along with you if they have also completed a continuous, lawful period of five years in the UK with permission as a partner of a Scale-Up worker (or former Scale-Up worker, if applicable). Dependent children will be able to apply for settlement if both parents have been, or are being, granted settlement.

      Can the Scale-Up Visa Lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain?

      Yes, the Scale-Up visa may potentially lead to you gaining indefinite leave to remain if you meet the eligibility criteria.

      To be eligible for settlement, you must have been in employment in the UK with a PAYE salary of at least £33,000 per annum. You must also have had guaranteed basic gross pay PAYE earnings equivalent to at least £33,000 per year during at least 24 months of the three years immediately before the date of the settlement application (or the UK equivalent to this).

      You must also meet the basic knowledge of life in the UK requirements, as well as meet the other criteria necessary to be eligible for indefinite leave to remain status.

      How Can IAS Help?

      The Scale-Up visa route is a fresh opportunity for skilled foreign workers to come and live and work in the UK to help support growing UK businesses.

      If you’re considering applying for the Scale-Up visa, or any other potential immigration route available to you as a skilled foreign worker, IAS can help.

      We are expert immigration advisers specialising in UK immigration law. We can help you through every step of the visa application process, including making sure that you meet the eligibility requirements, checking that your employer meets the sponsorship requirements, and ensuring that you have all the documents, funds and support necessary to make your move to the UK a successful one.

      For more information about the services we offer and what we can do for you, reach out to one of our immigration advisers on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online.

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                Related pages for your continued reading.

                Frequently Asked Questions

                If you’re not eligible for the Scale-Up route or you would like to explore other options to help you live and work in the UK, you may wish to consider the Skilled Worker visa or the Senior or Specialist Worker visa.

                Alternatively, you may also be eligible for the High Potential Individual route instead.

                If you require more information about what your immigration options are, or you’d like to speak to a professional adviser, reach out to us on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online today.

                The immigration skills charge is a fee that is usually paid by employers when issuing a certificate of sponsorship.

                Unlike other similar immigration pathways, such as the Skilled Worker route there is no Immigration Skills Charge to pay when issuing a certificate of sponsorship for a Scale-Up visa.

                An important Scale-Up worker requirement is to prove that you meet the minimum language requirements for the visa. One way you can do this is by taking a Secure English Language Test (SELT).

                If you’re inside the UK, you may only take a SELT with one of the following authorised providers:

                • Trinity College London
                • IELTS SELT Consortium
                • LanguageCert
                • Pearson

                Meanwhile, if you’re outside the UK, you may only take a SELT with one of the following:

                • PSI Services (UK) Ltd
                • IELTS SELT Consortium
                • LanguageCert
                • Pearson