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Scale-Up-Visa

The Scale-Up-Visa is a pioneering immigration initiative in the UK’s points-based system, streamlining the entry of skilled professionals into rapidly growing businesses, known as “scale-ups.” Unique in its flexibility, visa holders can switch jobs or employers after six months without sponsorship, offering a broadened employment landscape. For a complimentary phone consultation, please dial +44 (0) 1293 522 275 or fill out our contact form.

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November 10, 2023

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Requirements and Application Process for the UK Scale-up Visa

The UK Scale-Up-Visa facilitates the entry of foreign nationals into the UK for employment in eligible positions within fast-growing UK businesses, commonly referred to as ‘scale-up businesses,’ for a minimum duration of 6 months. Launched on August 22, 2022, the visa aims to streamline the hiring process for rapidly expanding UK enterprises seeking skilled labour globally. Notably, the regulations permit scale-up visa holders to transition from their sponsored roles to unsponsored ones after six months.

To qualify for a UK Scale-Up Visa, a crucial requirement is the possession of a job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by an approved sponsor or employer. The sponsoring business must also be in the scale-up phase, experiencing significant growth. Regrettably, as immigration lawyers, we cannot assist in job placement in the UK. However, once you secure a job offer from a scale-up business, we can aid you in the Scale-Up Visa application process.

If granted, Scale-Up Visa holders are allowed an initial stay of 2 years, extendable for an additional 3 years. After a continuous residence of 5 years in the UK on a Scale-Up Visa, individuals can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Continuous residence implies not being outside the UK for more than 180 days in any consecutive year.

Requirements for the UK Scale-Up-Visa

To qualify for the UK Scale-Up Visa, applicants must adhere to the following detailed eligibility requirements:

  • Job Offer from an Approved Scale-Up Business:
    • Obtain a job offer from a recognized scale-up business, and the employment period must span a minimum of 6 months.
  • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS):
    • Secure a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the prospective employer, a crucial document indicating sponsorship for the visa application.
  • Occupation Eligibility:
    • Occupy a position that aligns with the list of eligible occupations designated for the Scale-Up Visa category.
  • Minimum Salary Requirements:
    • Meet the prescribed minimum salary threshold, which is £34,600 per year, or the ‘going rate’ applicable to the specific type of work.
  • English Language Proficiency:
    • Demonstrate proficiency in the English language, fulfilling the stipulated language requirements for effective communication in a professional setting.
  • Financial Capacity:
    • Showcase sufficient funds to sustain oneself during the stay in the UK, ensuring financial independence and the ability to cover living expenses.

What are scale-up companies/business?

A scale-up company or business is one that, in the three years prior to obtaining approval for a sponsor licence from the Home Office, has:

  • Experienced a 20% growth in either employment or total sales (turnover) each year.
  • Had a minimum of 10 employees at the beginning of the three-year period.

Currently, it is estimated that approximately 34,000 businesses meet the criteria of being a scale-up company.

For a scale-up business to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, it must be listed as A-rated on the approved UK sponsors list (i.e., the scale-up visa UK companies list). If you require assistance in applying for a sponsorship licence, please contact our immigration lawyers at +44 (0) 1293 522 275 or via email at mail@staging.jpsimmigration.com.

Occupations Eligible for the Scale-Up-Visa

To qualify for the scale-up visa, it is imperative to hold a position within the list of eligible occupations. Your employer will provide you with a 4-digit occupation code corresponding to your role, enabling you to verify its eligibility.

Minimum Salary Requirements for the Scale-Up-Visa

As an applicant for the scale-up visa, your remuneration must be the higher of the following:

  • £34,600 per year:
    • Ensure that your annual salary meets or exceeds £34,600.
  • The ‘Going Rate’ for Your Specific Job:
    • Consult the list of eligible occupations to determine the appropriate ‘going rate’ for your specific job role.

English Language Requirements for the Scale-Up-Visa

To fulfil the English language prerequisites for the scale-up visa, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Hail from an Eligible Country:
    • If you are a citizen of a country recognised as eligible, you automatically satisfy the language requirement.
  • Hold a Degree or Higher Obtained in English:
    • Possess a degree or higher qualification that was taught in English.
  • Possess a School-Level Qualification Acquired in the UK Before Turning 18:
    • If you obtained a school-level qualification by studying at a UK school before the age of 18, this meets the language requirement.
  • Successfully Pass an Approved English Test at CEFR Level B1 or Higher:
    • If you opt for this route, ensure you pass an English test at the specified CEFR level or higher.

Adequate Financial Support for the Scale-Up Visa

You must maintain a minimum balance of £1,270 in your bank account for at least 28 consecutive days before applying. If you have been in the UK for one year or more, this requirement is not applicable.

Sponsored and Unsponsored Routes of the Scale-Up-Visa

A distinctive feature of the scale-up visa is its provision for visa holders to switch to a different job or employer without requiring sponsorship, following the initial 6-month period in the UK. This flexibility is particularly advantageous as the majority of UK employers do not possess sponsor licenses, broadening the spectrum of employment opportunities for scale-up visa holders. Moreover, individuals can opt for self-employment after the initial 6-month period.

Those who decide to change their job or employer after the initial 6 months are not obligated to apply for a new visa. Nevertheless, meeting the salary requirements remains essential when seeking an extension for the visa.

It is noteworthy that if you intend to change your employer within the first 6 months after obtaining your scale-up visa, you must inform the Home Office by applying online to update your scale-up visa. Importantly, the new job with your new employer must still feature on the eligible occupation list.

Scale-Up-Visa vs Skilled Worker Visa

Both visas are integral components of the Home Office’s points-based immigration system (PBS), necessitating a sponsored job offer from a UK employer. Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, scale-up visa holders enjoy the flexibility to switch to a new job or employer after six months, and sponsorship is no longer mandatory at this juncture. In contrast, Skilled Worker visa holders are obligated to maintain sponsorship throughout their tenure.

Furthermore, the Scale-Up visa imposes a higher salary requirement, set at £33,000, in contrast to the £25,600 requirement for the Skilled Worker visa. Both visas entail meeting specified English language proficiency requirements.

How JPS Immigration Can Assist You:

Our dedicated team of immigration lawyers, specializing in work visas, is poised to provide comprehensive support for a range of matters related to the newly introduced Scale-Up Visa. Contact us for expert advice and assistance with the following:

  • Assessing Visa Suitability:
    • Thoroughly evaluate whether the Scale-Up Visa aligns with your specific needs and circumstances.
  • Exploring Alternative Visa Options:
    • Provide informed advice on potentially more suitable visa alternatives based on a detailed assessment of your situation.
  • Business Criteria Evaluation:
    • Conduct a thorough examination to determine whether your business meets the anticipated criteria for the Scale-Up Visa.
  • Scale-Up Visa Application Guidance:
    • Offer comprehensive support throughout the application process for the Scale-Up Visa, ensuring accuracy and completeness.
  • Addressing Refusals and Challenges:
    • Assist in navigating challenges or refusals encountered during the Scale-Up Visa application, providing strategic guidance for resolution.

Feel free to contact JPS Immigration for expert support tailored to your immigration needs.

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