Scale up Visa UK 2023: Your Comprehensive Guide

The Scale Up Visa UK symbolizes the UK’s commitment to ushering in the world’s finest talent. Tailored for individuals with unique expertise, this visa emerges as a beacon for professionals instrumental to the meteoric rise of the UK’s Scale-up sectors. Delve into this guide for an in-depth exploration of this prized immigration pathway.

Scale up visa UK
The UK’s Scale Up visa: Connecting global talent with the nation’s burgeoning businesses

1. Introduction

The UK’s Scale Up Visa represents the nation’s drive to support burgeoning businesses by attracting international talent. This visa offers an ideal blend of initial sponsorship and unparalleled flexibility, making it distinct among UK work visas. In this guide, we’ll dissect the visa’s essentials and delve into its benefits for both UK businesses and skilled individuals.

Brief Overview:

The Scale Up Visa operates on a points-based system and caters to migrant workers with a job offer from a recognized UK scale up sponsor. Initially, holders are tied to their sponsoring job for six months, but subsequently enjoy full work flexibility. This visa encourages academic pursuits, but some postgraduate subjects require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. Furthermore, the visa’s primary beneficiaries can bring their dependent family members to the UK, offering a path to indefinite leave.

2. Snapshot

An Overview of the Scale-up Visa (At a Glance)


To attract high-skilled professionals to fortify the UK’s Scale-up businesses.


  • High-skilled job offer from a recognized UK Scale-up.
  • Salary meets the requisite threshold.


  • Sponsored: For newcomers with a Scale-up sponsor.
  • Unsponsored: For those already on the Scale-up Visa, subject to certain earning criteria.

Key Requirements:

  • Age: 18+
  • Valid high-skilled job offer.
  • English proficiency: CEFR Level B1.
  • Financial self-sufficiency.
  • Valid TB certificate (where applicable).
  • Certificate of Sponsorship (for Sponsored Applications).


  • Sponsored: 2 years.
  • Unsponsored: 3 years.


  • Sponsored: Work for the sponsor for 6 months, then free to switch.
  • Unsponsored: Full work rights from the outset.

Settlement Path:

After 5 years in the UK, with adherence to certain criteria.

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    3. Eligibility and Requirements for the Scale Up Visa UK

    To successfully navigate the UK’s immigration system, understanding specific visa requirements is crucial. Here’s a detailed look at the prerequisites for the Scale Up Visa UK:

    Age: Must be 18 or older.

    Job Offer & Skill Level:

    • A genuine high-skilled job offer from an authorized UK scale-up.
    • Job role at RQF 6 or equivalent (graduate level).
    • The occupation code must be in the Appendix Skilled Occupations.

    Salary: Minimum £34,600 or the job’s ‘going rate’ (whichever is greater).

    English Proficiency: CEFR level B1 unless exempt.

    Financial Thresholds:

    • Proof of at least £1,270 for first-time applicants, unless a UK sponsor vouches for their initial month’s sustenance.
    • Funds must be held for a consecutive 28 days.

    Point System:

    70 points needed for eligibility (50 for sponsorship/job offer and 10 each for English and financial requirements).

    Additional Suitability Requirements:

    • Clean criminal records and adherence to immigration rules.
    • Some nationalities must register with the police.

    It’s imperative to meticulously adhere to these stipulations to bolster the chances of a successful Scale Up Visa UK application.

    4. Registering for the Scale Up Visa UK as an Employer

    The growing UK economy spurs a need for talented overseas professionals. Here’s a succinct guide for employers keen on the Scale Up Visa UK:

    • Scale Up Sponsor Licence:
      UK enterprises in rapid growth phases can become certified scale up sponsors. Once approved, they can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for potential recruits. Initially, sponsorship lasts 6 months, but the employee’s visa extends for 2 years. After the initial 6 months, employees can operate without sponsorship and may change their roles or employers without additional permissions, provided they meet scale up criteria.
    • Registration Process:
      To register:
      • Demonstrate a minimum 20% growth over the past three years in turnover or personnel.
      • Have at least 10 employees at the start of the three-year period.
      • Secure Home Office approval before allocating a CoS to new recruits.
    • Scale Up Endorsing Pathway (From 13 April 2023):
      Employers not meeting the sponsor licence criteria can seek endorsement from a Home Office-approved body. This endorsement is valid for three months.
    • Understanding Visa Types: Sponsored vs. Unsponsored:
      • Sponsored: 2-year visa with 6 months in the sponsored job.
      • Unsponsored: 3-year visa offering an easier path to UK settlement.
      Both types initially require a job offer from a licensed scale up sponsor. Notably, if a foreign worker wishes to change roles or employers within the first 6 months, they must reapply under the sponsored route.

    5. The Scale Up Visa UK Application Guide

    Whether you’re within or outside the UK, here’s how to navigate the Scale Up Visa UK application:

    • Online Application:
      File your application online, submit supporting documents, pay the application fee, and cover the Immigration Health Surcharge.
    • Biometrics:
      Some applicants will attend a biometric appointment for photograph and fingerprint recording.
    • Key Documents:
      • Proof of Identity: Passport or equivalent.
      • English Proficiency: Test results or academic qualifications.
      • Financial Evidence: Bank statements or bank letters.
      • Medical Certificate: Some nationalities need a TB test from a UK-approved clinic.
    • Switching Restrictions:
      If you’re already in the UK, know that you cannot switch from permissions granted under:
      • Visitor status.
      • Short-term student visa.
      • Parent of a child student visa.
      • Seasonal worker visa.
      • Domestic worker visa.
      • Categories outside standard UK Immigration Rules.
    • Wait Time:
      After application submission, expect a review period. Ensure your documentation is complete to prevent delays.

    6. Sponsored Scale Up Visa UK: Your Step-by-Step Guide

    For migrant professionals aiding UK business growth, the Sponsored Scale Up Visa offers a clear path. Here’s how to navigate:

    • Overview: Non-UK nationals with a high-skilled UK job offer can apply. The role must meet salary requirements and extend for at least 6 months, backed by a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
    • Eligibility:
      • Sponsorship (50 points): The job offer should be genuine, meet skill and salary criteria.
      • English Language (10 points): B1 level or higher on the CEFR across all competencies.
      • Financial Stability (10 points): Hold at least £1,270 for 28 consecutive days or have sponsor certification.
      Accumulating 70 points is crucial. Falling short leads to rejection.
    • Application Details:
      • Online Form: Complete it, submit documents, and pay the fee.
      • Job Offer & CoS: A valid offer from a UK scale-up business and accompanying CoS is essential.
      • Timeline: Apply up to 3 months before the job’s start date. Successful applicants commit to a 6-month stint with the sponsoring firm.
      • Costs: £715 application fee plus £624 annually for NHS access. Additional £1,270 may be needed.
      • Processing: Applications from outside the UK typically take up to 3 weeks.

    Key Note: The process is clear but demands precision. Consider consulting immigration experts for smooth processing.

    7. Unsponsored Scale Up Visa UK: A Deeper Look

    For non-UK nationals on the Scale Up route seeking an extension, the Unsponsored Visa is ideal. Here’s your guide:

    • Overview: This visa lets overseas professionals on the Scale Up pathway extend their stay without a new CoS.
    • Eligibility:
      • Employment: Applicants should have worked in their original CoS role for a minimum of 6 months.
      • Earnings: For a 2-year visa holder, a minimum of 12 months with an annual equivalent of £34,600 is needed. For CoS allocated before 11 April 2023, it’s £33,000.
      • Other Criteria: English proficiency is required. Those in the UK for 12+ months at the time of application automatically meet the financial criterion.
    • Application Details:
      • Submission: Similar to the sponsored route but without a new CoS.
      • Duration: In-UK applications usually take 8 weeks. Staying in the UK during this time is crucial. Faster processing is available for an extra fee.
      • Validity: Successful applicants get a 3-year extension, with no limits on renewals. After five continuous years, they can apply for indefinite UK stay.

    Key Note: The Unsponsored Visa underlines the UK’s focus on retaining global talent. Ensure adherence to all criteria and consider expert consultation for hassle-free extensions.

    8. Navigating the Transitions: Scale Up Visa Highlights

    • Switching to the Scale Up Route in the UK:
      • Overseas nationals can transition to the scale-up route if they meet the required criteria.
      • Exceptions include visitors, short-term students, and certain other categories; they must apply from abroad.
    • Costs Involved:
      • Application Fee: £715.
      • Healthcare Surcharge: £624 p.a.
      • Financial Minimum: £1,270 (exceptions exist).
    • Scale Up Worker Extension Insights:
      • No need for a new sponsorship.
      • PAYE earnings criteria: £33,000 annually for half the visa duration, increased to £34,600 post 11 April 2023.
    • Dependants on Scale Up Visa:
      • Eligibility for spouse/partner and children under 18.
      • Financial Evidence: £285 for a spouse/partner, £315 for a child, and £200 for subsequent children. Exemptions if certified by UK sponsor.
    • Scale Up Visa Benefits:
      • Applicants: Employment flexibility, clear residency pathway, family reunion perks.
      • UK Sponsors: Expedited verification, reduced costs, and a comparison benefit over the Skilled Worker Visa.

    9. Scale Up Visa UK: Your Questions Decoded

    What’s the Scale-Up Visa?

    A permit for foreign talents to work in high-growth UK companies.

    Who’s Eligible?

    Professionals with a job offer from a UK scale-up sponsor lasting at least 6 months.

    Application Process:

    Online form, essential documents, and fees. A sponsorship certificate is crucial.

    Entrepreneurial Move to UK:

    A distinct visa is needed for entrepreneurial initiatives.

    Criteria for Permanent Stay (Indefinite Leave to Remain):

    5-year UK residency, meeting specific work and salary conditions, and demonstrating local life proficiency.

    What If Denied?

    Consultation with immigration experts is advised.

    Becoming a Scale-Up Sponsor:

    Companies should show a 20% growth over 3 years and a starting staff of 10.

    Scale-Up vs. Skilled Worker Visa:

    Both cater to foreign talents, but the latter has broader criteria and varied conditions.

    10. Scale Up Visa: The Final Word

    The Scale Up visa is a game-changer for foreign professionals and UK’s fast-growing businesses. Its rigorous criteria ensure mutual benefit for individuals and enterprises. The visa’s flexibility, especially towards Indefinite Leave to Remain, presents a significant opportunity for long-term UK settlement. For companies, it’s a magnet for global talent, bolstering their growth. The visa underscores the UK’s focus on innovation, expansion, and global partnership.

    For further details please refer to Immigration Rules: Appendix Scale-up Visa.