The Scale-up Visa
The scale-up visa is a new UK immigration route that is due to open to applications on the 22 August 2022. In this article our immigration solicitors explore the scale-up visa.
UK Online and London Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers
What is the scale-up visa?
There are two types of scale-up visa application:
- The sponsored route and
- The unsponsored route.
We will focus on the sponsored route because to qualify under the unsponsored route you must previously been granted permission as a scale-up worker.
The sponsored scale-up visa route
The government says the scale-up visa route is for individuals with talent who are recruited by a UK scale-up sponsor to help the sponsoring employer continue to grow the scale-up business.
The scale-up visa route has some similarities to the skilled worker visa as an applicant, under the sponsored scale-up visa route, requires a sponsoring employer and a job offer. Both the scale-up visa and the skilled worker visa allow an applicant to bring family members with them on dependant visas and both routes can lead to settlement through an application for indefinite leave to remain.
The eligibility criteria for the sponsored scale-up visa
The Home Office has announced that the eligibility criteria for the sponsored scale-up visa are:
- An applicant must be aged 18 or over.
- The applicant must have been offered a job that is a genuine vacancy and is at an appropriate skill level for the scale-up visa. The skill level is RQF 6 (graduate level). The job must be on a list published by the Home Office of jobs with associated occupation codes and salary going rates. Not every type of RQF 6 level job will qualify for a scale-up visa.
- The sponsoring employer has assigned a certificate of sponsorship to the applicant. The sponsoring employer needs a sponsor licence that enables them to sponsor a scale-up visa applicant. A sponsor licence to sponsor skilled worker visa applicants or temporary workers or senior or specialist worker visa applicants is not sufficient.
- The job meets the minimum salary threshold, namely an annual salary equal to or higher than £33,000 gross per year, £10.58 per hour and the ‘going rate’ for the job. The going rate for the job is published by the Home Office and is not set by the sponsoring employer. The minimum salary threshold is based on guaranteed basic gross pay working up to 48 hours per week and it does not include other pay or benefits.
- The applicant meets the maintenance requirement and meets the English language requirement. An applicant can meet the English language requirement through sitting an English language test or they may not need to do so if they have a qualifying qualification or come from a country on a list of countries that the Home Office classes as English speaking.
- If required, the applicant has a valid TB certificate. This is only required if the applicant is applying from one of a specified list of countries.
The eligibility criteria for an unsponsored scale-up visa
With the unsponsored route some of the eligibility criteria are the same as the sponsored route, namely:
- The applicant must be aged 18 or over.
- The applicant must meet the same English language and maintenance requirement and produce a TB certificate ( if necessary).
In addition, the applicant needs to be able to show that:
- They have previously been granted entry clearance as a scale-up worker.
- The applicant had monthly PAYE earnings in the UK equivalent to at least £33,000 gross per year during at least half of their most recent scale-up worker leave.
Sponsoring a scale-up visa applicant
Sponsorship Licence lawyers say that UK companies will need sponsor licence advice on either making an application for their first sponsor licence or extending their sponsor licence to cover sponsorship of scale-up visa applicants.
To secure a scale-up sponsor licence, a UK employer will need to be able to demonstrate that they have had an annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous three year period in turnover or staff. The sponsor needs to have had a minimum of ten employees at the start of the relevant three year period. To sponsor a scale-up visa applicant, the sponsor licence will need to have an A rating and the sponsorship of the visa applicant must last at least six months.
One positive with the scale-up visa is that the sponsoring employer does not need to pay the immigration skills charge when sponsoring a scale-up visa applicant. The avoidance of the immigration skills charge may encourage some employers to suggest that suitably qualified sponsored skilled worker visa holders switch from the skilled worker visa to the scale-up visa. The immigration rules will allow a switch to extend a stay if a worker is in the UK on a skilled worker visa.
Length of sponsorship of a scale-up visa holder
On the sponsored scale-up visa route the visa applicant must be employed by their sponsor for at least six months. After that, the visa holder does not have to have a sponsor. With the unsponsored route there is no requirement for a sponsoring employer from the outset.
Length of the scale-up visa
On the sponsored route an applicant will get entry clearance for two years and on the unsponsored route an applicant will be granted entry clearance for a period of three years.
Can an applicant settle in the UK on the scale-up visa?
The scale-up visa can lead to settlement in the UK. To secure indefinite leave to remain a holder of a scale-up visa holder will need to:
- Meet the five year residence requirement for indefinite leave to remain. The residence must be lawful and continuous in accordance with the immigration rules. The residence requirement can be met by being in the UK in a variety of ways, including time spent in the five years on the scale-up visa or skilled worker visa or global talent visa or innovator visa or sole representative visa.
- The indefinite leave to remain applicant is in employment in the UK on the date of their ILR application with a salary paid through PAYE of at least £33,000 per year. Self employed income does not count.
- The ILR applicant has had monthly PAYE earnings in the UK equivalent to at least £33,000 per year during at least 24 months of the last three years immediately before the date of the ILR application.
- The ILR applicant has passed the Knowledge of Life in the UK requirement.
If your company is interested in securing a sponsor licence to sponsor a scale-up visa applicant then speak to our Sponsorship Licence lawyers now to secure your sponsor licence in time for the route opening in August.
If you are interested in applying for the scale-up visa, call our immigration lawyers to discuss your potential visa application and your alternate work visa options.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers