An Immigration Solicitors Guide to the New UK Scale-Up Visa
The scale-up visa is now open to new applications. It is getting interest from UK businesses as well as skilled overseas workers. That’s because it has advantages for both UK employers and for overseas workers seeking employment in the UK as it is more flexible than the skilled worker visa. Immigration solicitors say the scale-up visa is a specialist work visa and that the skilled worker visa is likely to remain the ‘go-to’ work visa for most employers. However, it is important for UK employers to know about the scale-up visa so they can use it, where available, as their preferred route to fill vacancies with overseas workers, and for work visa applicants to appreciate and take advantage of its flexibility.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers
The scale-up visa – a sponsored work visa
The scale-up visa is a sponsored work visa. That means visa applicants need a job offer from a sponsoring employer with a Home Office-issued sponsor licence.
What then is the difference between the new scale-up visa and the sponsored skilled worker visa? Although visa applicants require a sponsor for either work visa, with the scale-up visa an employee only requires initial sponsorship. After 6 months the worker can move to unsponsored employment. In contrast, the skilled worker visa applicant has to have a sponsoring employer throughout the duration of their work visa. That can lead to issues for skilled worker visa holders if their employer loses their sponsor licence through revocation or the employee wants to secure promotion but cannot find a better paid more senior post with an employer who holds a sponsor licence.
The scale-up visa eligibility criteria
A work visa applicant qualifies for the scale-up visa if:
- They reach 70 points under the UK points-based immigration system – the 70 points can be gained through having a suitable job offer and meeting the English language requirement and financial requirement
- They are aged 18 or over
- They have a job offer from a UK employer who holds a sponsor licence to sponsor scale-up visa applicants. That means the employer company must meet the criteria for a scale-up business
- The job is a genuine job offer
- The job is skilled to graduate level. This is referred to as RQF 6 level. ( for the skilled worker visa the job skill level is a minimum of RQF 3 or A-level standard)
- The job is on the list of eligible scale-up visa jobs with an allocated standard occupational code
- The job meets the minimum salary threshold for the scale-up visa – that is £33,000 a year or the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher figure. The going rate is not set by the employer but by the government
- The English language requirement is met either through exemption (because of qualifications or nationality as from a listed majority English speaking country) or through sitting the English language test
- The financial requirement is met by either the applicant or sponsoring employer. The financial requirement means the scale-up visa applicant must be able to show they have had funds of £1,270, for at least 28 days or their sponsoring employer will certify that they will maintain the applicant for the first month
- They are not excluded from UK entry clearance because they fall foul of any of the general grounds for refusal in the immigration rules. For example, immigration history or criminal offending
One thing that does set the scale-up visa apart from the skilled worker visa is that the minimum salary threshold is higher than the skilled worker visa as it is set at £33,000 or the going rate for the job. That is a few thousand more than the skilled worker visa threshold of £25,600. However, if the sponsoring employer is offering employment in a highly skilled job that meets the higher minimum salary threshold of £33,000 the scale-up visa offers more flexibility to both the UK employer as well as the work visa applicant.
Like the skilled worker visa, the scale-up allows visa holders to:
- Bring family members with them on dependent visas
- Apply to settle in the UK through making an indefinite leave to remain application once they meet the residence requirement and ILR eligibility criteria. The scale-up visa lasts up to 2 years but the visa can be extended. A worker does not need a sponsoring employer when applying to extend a scale-up visa. However, the worker will need to have been on a salary of at least £33,000 per year during at least 50% of their scale-up visa to qualify for a visa extension
UK employer eligibility criteria for the scale-up visa
Unlike the skilled worker visa, to meet the eligibility criteria to sponsor scale-up visa holders, a UK business needs to meet specific growth criteria, namely:
- An annualised growth of at least 20% in turnover for the previous 3-year period or
- An annualised growth of at least 20% in staffing for the previous 3-year period
A scale-up company will need to have had a minimum of 10 employees at the beginning of the relevant 3-year period.
How can OTS Solicitors help you?
Whether you are a work visa applicant, or a UK company, our immigration solicitors and Sponsorship Licence lawyers can help you with:
- Scale-up visa applications
- Scale-up visa sponsor licence applications
- Switching into the scale-up visa
- Allocation of certificate of sponsorship
- Sponsor licence management and compliance
UK Online and London Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers