How to apply for the
new Scale-up

On 22 August 2022, applications opened for the Scale-up visa route. This new route under the points-based immigration system has been designed to provide the UK’s highest growing businesses with greater flexibility and power to entice top talent from around the world.

Businesses experiencing rapid growth will be able to use the route to sponsor talented individuals, from scientists and engineers to architects and programmers, to support their business and contribute to boosting the UK’s economy.

Unlike other sponsored visas, the Scale-up visa allows businesses to employ high-skilled individuals who will receive 2 years’ leave to remain in the UK without requiring further sponsorship or permission beyond the first 6 months. This will give employers greater flexibility to hire the often in-demand talent they need to help propel their business to the next level, while boosting the UK’s high-skilled talent pool.

Announcing the new route, Minister for Safe and Legal Migration Kevin Foster said:

“Rapidly growing businesses, like small enterprises, tech and financial services, need the right level of support to go to the next level. Through our Scale-up visa, we’re enabling businesses to focus on their growth and innovation by giving them more freedom to bring in the diverse skills and experience they need, making them more attractive on an international stage.

By supporting our high-growth tech, financial services and small businesses, we are ensuring the UK remains a global hub for emerging technologies and innovation while enhancing productivity across the economy – creating jobs, growth and prosperity across Britain.”

Below, we set out the eligibility requirements for applicants and employers, and outline the application process for the Scale-up visa.

Applicant eligibility requirements

To qualify for a Scale-up visa, applicants must:

  • Have a confirmed job offer to work for an approved scale-up business for at least 6 months
  • Be doing a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • Be paid at least £33,000 per year, £10.10 per hour, or the ‘going rate’ for the occupation, whichever is highest.

Applicants will also need to prove their knowledge of the English language, unless this has been completed in a previous successful visa application.

Approved Scale-up employers

Applicants must have a job offer from an approved UK employer before an application for a Scale-up visa can be submitted. Employers must be an eligible scale-up business to get approved. Approved employers are also known as ‘sponsors’ because they are sponsoring the Scale-up worker to come to or stay in the UK.

To qualify as a scale-up which can bring workers into the UK, businesses must show the Home Office that they have experienced high growth in the three-year period immediately before applying to sponsor workers. In this 3-year period, the business must have:

  • Grown by 20% on average in each year in either employment or total sales (turnover)
  • Had at least 10 employees at the start of the 3-year period.

Once approved, Scale-up sponsors will appear on the Home Office’s list of licenced sponsors.

How to apply

You can apply for a Scale-up visa up to 3 months before the day you’re due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship. Applications are submitted online via the GOV.UK website.

How you apply depends on whether you are:

As part of the application process, you will need to prove your identity by either:

  • Using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document, or;
  • Having your fingerprints and photograph taken at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point.

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision within:

  • 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK
  • 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK.

How much it costs

When you apply for a Scale-up Worker visa, you’ll need to have enough money to:

  • Pay the £715 application fee
  • Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) – this is usually £624 per year
  • Support yourself when you arrive in the UK – you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt).

Your partner and children

Your partner and children can apply to join you or to stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible. If their application is successful, their visa will end on the same date as yours.

A dependant partner or child is any of the following:

  • your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
  • your child under 18 – including if they were born in the UK during your stay
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant.

You’ll need to provide evidence of your relationship when you apply.

Dependants will also need to pay the visa application fee at the same rate as the main applicant, and pay the IHS.

How long you can stay

You can stay in the UK with a Scale-up visa for 2 years. You’ll need to apply to extend your visa when it expires. You can apply to extend your Scale-up visa as many times as you like by 3 years, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.

After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

Help with applying for a Scale-up visa

If you are looking to apply for a Scale-up visa and require support with the application process, Smith Stone Walters can help. To speak to a qualified immigration advisor, please contact us today.

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