Discover the Scale-up endorsement route for UK visas, designed for entrepreneurs with a proven track record of business growth and job creation. This guide provides an overview of the eligibility criteria, the process of obtaining an endorsement, and the responsibilities of endorsing bodies for this particular visa route.
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The Scale-up route is designed to support established entrepreneurs who have a proven track record of successful business operations and are seeking to expand their existing innovative businesses in the United Kingdom.
This visa category allows experienced business leaders to enter or remain in the UK to scale their businesses, create jobs, and contribute to the country’s economic growth. The main purpose of the Scale-up endorsement is to attract global talent and ensure that the UK remains a competitive hub for innovation and business growth. In this guide, we will walk you through the Scale-up endorsement process, eligibility criteria, and other essential aspects to help you navigate this visa route successfully.
2. Eligibility criteria
To be eligible for the scale-up route, applicants must meet specific criteria that demonstrate their ability to scale their existing businesses in the UK effectively. The main focus of this route is on business growth and job creation. Here are the key criteria and the required evidence for each:
1. Business growth
Applicants must prove that their business has experienced significant growth in the last two years, with at least a 20% increase in either revenue or employment. This growth must be sustainable and indicative of the business’s potential to continue expanding in the UK market.
Required evidence: applicants must provide financial statements, such as audited accounts, demonstrating the growth in revenue or employment. They may also need to submit business plans outlining the company’s projected growth and expansion strategies in the UK.
2. Job creation
Applicants must show that their business has created at least five full-time jobs in the UK for resident workers within the last three years. These jobs must meet the minimum salary requirement set by the UK government, which is currently £25,600 per year or the appropriate rate for the job, whichever is higher.
Required evidence: To prove job creation, applicants should provide payroll records, employment contracts, and other relevant documentation showing that they have created and maintained at least five full-time jobs for UK resident workers over the specified period.
Additionally, the applicant must secure an endorsement for UK scale-up visa from an authorized endorsing body, which will assess the applicant’s business growth potential and job creation capacity. The endorsing body will require a detailed business plan, financial forecasts, and other relevant information to evaluate the applicant’s eligibility for the Scale-up route.
3. Endorsement Process
The endorsement process for the Scale-up route is similar to the Innovator Founder route but with some key differences. Here’s an overview of the steps involved in obtaining an endorsement for the Scale-up route:
1. Identify an endorsing body
First, applicants need to identify an endorsing body authorized by the UK Home Office to issue endorsements for the Scale-up route. This body should be relevant to the applicant’s business sector and have a track record of supporting businesses with scaling up.
2. Seek consent
Before obtaining an endorsement, applicants must get consent from the endorsing body to allow them to share the endorsement letter and other relevant information relating to their business and endorsement application with the Home Office. This consent should be sought in writing, and a copy should be kept for audit purposes.
3. Prepare the application
Applicants should prepare their application by gathering the required evidence, such as financial statements, employment records, and a comprehensive business plan. The application should demonstrate that the business meets the eligibility criteria for the Scale-up route, focusing on business growth and job creation.
4. Submit the application to the endorsing body
Once the application is ready, applicants should submit it to their chosen endorsing body for review. The endorsing body will assess the applicant’s business against the Scale-up criteria, and if satisfied, they will issue an endorsement letter.
5. Endorsement letter
The endorsement letter must include the following information:
- The endorsing body’s name
- The endorsement reference number (previously unused)
- The date of issue (valid for 3 months)
- The applicant’s personal details (name, date of birth, nationality, and passport number)
- A short description of the applicant’s business and its growth
- Confirmation that the applicant’s business meets the Scale-up endorsement criteria
- A named contact at the endorsing body who can verify the contents of the letter
6. Notify the Home Office
When issuing an endorsement letter, the endorsing body must also send a notification to the appropriate Home Office email address ([email protected]). This allows the Home Office to verify the letter’s authenticity without having to contact the endorsing body each time.
After receiving the endorsement letter, applicants can proceed with their visa application under the Scale-up route. The endorsement letter is an essential part of the visa application process, and without it, the application will be refused.
4. Monitoring and Reporting
Unlike the Innovator Founder route, the Scale-up route does not require endorsing bodies to undertake any checkpoint action or monitoring for endorsed businesses. This means that once the Scale-up endorsement is granted, there is no need for checkpoint monitoring meetings or on-site visits to assess the progress of the business.
The absence of such requirements allows businesses to focus on their growth and job creation efforts without the additional administrative burden of regular checkpoints. However, it is essential for businesses to maintain their growth trajectory and job creation efforts to ensure they continue to meet the Scale-up endorsement criteria throughout their visa duration.
5. Withdrawing Endorsement
While the Scale-up route has fewer monitoring requirements than the Innovator Founder route, endorsing bodies still have the responsibility to withdraw an endorsement if certain conditions are not met. Reasons for withdrawing an endorsement in the Scale-up route may include:
- The applicant fails to maintain contact with the endorsing body as requested.
- The applicant is not actively working towards the growth and job creation objectives outlined in their endorsement application.
- The business fails, and the applicant does not intend to start another business that meets the Scale-up endorsement criteria.
In case any of these situations arise, the endorsing body must inform the Home Office within 10 working days by emailing the appropriate address. The email should include the applicant’s details and the reason for withdrawing the endorsement.
If an endorsement is withdrawn before the visa application has been granted, the application will be refused. If the applicant has already been granted the visa and spent some time in the UK, the Home Office may consider curtailing the visa. The final decision rests with the Home Office, and they may take into account the specific reason for withdrawing the endorsement in deciding whether to curtail the visa immediately or allow the individual to retain part of the remaining visa duration.
In summary, the Scale-up route is designed for talented entrepreneurs who have proven track records of growth and job creation in their businesses. To be eligible for this route, applicants must demonstrate their business growth and job creation potential, as well as obtain an endorsement from an approved endorsing body.
The endorsement process involves seeking consent from the applicant, issuing an endorsement letter, and submitting the application. Unlike the Innovator Founder route, the Scale-up route does not require checkpoint monitoring meetings or on-site visits. However, endorsing bodies still have the responsibility to withdraw endorsements under specific circumstances, and applicants must be aware of the potential consequences.
For more information on the Scale-up route, eligibility criteria, and the endorsement process, consult the official Home Office guidance and visit the gov.uk website. Additionally, applicants may contact the Home Office or consult an immigration advisor for further assistance.