Immigration Specialists London

The Scale Up Visa UK 2024 is a groundbreaking initiative by the UK to draw in unparalleled global talent essential for the rapid expansion of its burgeoning sectors. Tailored for individuals boasting specialized skills and profound expertise, this visa serves as a critical pathway for professionals poised to contribute to the growth of fast-evolving industries. Our guide provides a deep dive into the Scale Up Visa UK, presenting a comprehensive overview of this significant immigration option for skilled professionals.

Published On:

Last Updated:

Scale up visa UK Guidance

1. Introduction to the Scale Up Visa UK

The Scale Up Visa UK marks a significant step in the UK’s strategy to foster the growth of its rapidly evolving sectors. This visa stands out in its commitment to attracting high-caliber international talent, crucial for the expansion of dynamic industries. Uniquely, it offers a blend of initial employment sponsorship with subsequent flexibility, setting it apart from other UK work visas.

An Overview of Scale Up Visa UK

  • Purpose
    • Designed to support the UK’s dynamic scale-up businesses by attracting top-tier international professionals.
  • Eligibility and Detailed Requirements
    • Age: Must be 18 or older.
    • Job Offer & Skill Level: High-skilled job offer from an authorized UK scale-up company at RQF 6 or equivalent. Occupation code listed in the Appendix Skilled Occupations.
    • Salary: Minimum £34,600 or the job’s ‘going rate,’ whichever is higher.
    • English Language: CEFR level B1, unless exempt.
    • Financial Thresholds: Proof of £1,270 for first-time applicants, maintained for 28 days, unless covered by the UK sponsor.
    • Point System: 70 points required (50 for sponsorship/job offer, 10 each for English and financial requirements).
  • Sponsored Route
    • For new applicants with a job offer from a Scale-up sponsor.
    • 2-year visa with an initial 6-month commitment to the sponsoring employer.
    • Sponsored migrants must work with their sponsor for 6 months before gaining full work flexibility.
  • Unsponsored Route
    • For existing visa holders, subject to earning criteria.
    • 3-year visa with full work rights from the start.
    • Unsponsored migrants enjoy immediate full work rights.
  • Settlement Pathway
    • Eligibility for settlement after 5 years in the UK, subject to meeting specific criteria.
  • Additional Suitability Requirements
    • Clean criminal records, adherence to immigration rules, and police registration for some nationalities.

2. Employer Guide: Registering for the Scale Up Visa UK

The UK’s economic vitality is increasingly fueled by the skills of talented professionals from around the globe. For forward-thinking employers seeking to harness this international talent, the Scale Up Visa UK presents a valuable opportunity. This visa not only enables access to a diverse pool of skilled individuals but also simplifies the sponsorship process, making it easier for businesses to support the growth of their operations. Below is a detailed guide to help employers navigate the registration and sponsorship process effectively:

AspectDetails and Instructions
Scale Up Sponsor Licence RequirementsGrowth Criteria: Businesses must demonstrate at least a 20% growth in turnover or staff numbers over three years.
Staffing Requirements: A minimum of 10 employees is required at the start of the three-year evaluation period.
Sponsorship ProcessCoS Issuance: Approved businesses can issue Certificates of Sponsorship to overseas recruits.
Initial Duration: The sponsorship is valid for 6 months, while the visa extends for 2 years.
Post-Sponsorship Flexibility: After 6 months, employees are allowed to change jobs or employers, provided they meet the Scale Up criteria.
Registration Steps for EmployersEmployers need to demonstrate the required growth, maintain at least 10 employees at the start of the evaluation period, and obtain Home Office approval prior to issuing CoS.
Scale Up Endorsing Pathway (Effective from 13 April 2023)Employers who don’t meet the standard criteria can opt for endorsement from a Home Office-approved body, valid for three months, to facilitate the sponsorship process.
Understanding Visa Types: Sponsored vs. Unsponsored RoutesSponsored Route: Offers a 2-year visa with a mandatory 6-month period in the sponsored job, ideal for employers looking to fill specific roles.
Unsponsored Route: Provides a 3-year visa with greater employment flexibility, suitable for individuals seeking long-term opportunities and an easier path to UK settlement. Both routes necessitate an initial job offer from a licensed Scale Up sponsor.
Employer Guide: Registering for the Scale Up Visa UK

This guide aims to provide UK employers with a clear understanding of the Scale Up Visa process, from meeting sponsorship licence requirements to choosing the appropriate visa route. By engaging in this program, employers can significantly contribute to the UK’s economic growth while benefiting from the skills and expertise of global talent.

3. UK Scale Up Visa Application Process

Applying for the Scale Up Visa UK involves a series of straightforward steps, whether you’re applying from within the UK or overseas. This process requires careful attention to documentation and compliance with specific requirements. Below is a detailed breakdown of each stage of the application process:

Stage of ApplicationDetails and Requirements
Online Application ProcessSubmission: File the application online via the UK government’s visa portal.
Documentation: Upload all necessary supporting documents.
Fees: Pay the visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
Biometric InformationAppointment: Attend a biometric appointment for photograph and fingerprints, if required.
Key Documents RequiredIdentification: A valid passport or travel document.
English Proficiency: Evidence of CEFR Level B1 via test results or qualifications.
Financial Proof: Bank statements or official letters showing sufficient funds.
Medical Certificate: TB test results from a UK-approved clinic, if applicable.
Restrictions on Switching Visa CategoriesNot applicable for switching from visitor, short-term student, parent of a child student, seasonal worker, domestic worker in a private household visas, and categories outside standard UK Immigration Rules.
Visa Wait TimeReview Period: Varies; complete and accurate documentation can expedite the process.
Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for the Scale Up Visa UK

This guide aims to provide prospective applicants with a clear understanding of the Scale Up Visa application process, outlining the necessary steps and requirements to ensure a smooth and successful application.

4. Scale Up Visa UK: Sponsored and Unsponsored Routes

The Scale Up Visa UK offers two distinct pathways for professionals: the Sponsored and Unsponsored routes. Each caters to different applicant needs, balancing initial job requirements with future flexibility. The Sponsored route is ideal for those with a specific job offer from a UK scale-up business, while the Unsponsored route provides an extended stay option for those already holding a Scale Up Visa. Understanding the nuances of these routes is crucial for applicants to choose the path that best suits their career goals and circumstances.

Eligibility for VisaNon-UK nationals with high-skilled job offers from UK scale-up businesses, meeting specified salary requirements and supported by a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
Eligibility RequirementsSponsorship (50 points), English Language Proficiency (B1 level or higher, 10 points), Financial Stability (proof of £1,270, 10 points). Minimum of 70 points required.
Visa Application ProcessOnline Application, Job Offer & CoS requirement, apply up to 3 months before job start date. 6-month commitment to sponsoring firm.
Costs£715 application fee, £624 annual NHS surcharge, potential need for £1,270 financial proof.
Processing TimeTypically up to 3 weeks for applications from outside the UK.
Sponsored Scale Up Visa UK: A Comprehensive Guide

Unsponsored Scale Up Visa UK: Extended Stay Opportunity

OverviewAllows current Scale Up Visa holders to extend their stay without a new CoS.
EligibilityEmployment in the original CoS role for at least 6 months, Minimum annual earnings of £34,600 (or £33,000 for CoS allocated before 11 April 2023). English proficiency and financial stability requirements.
Application ProcessSimilar to the sponsored route but without a new CoS requirement. In-UK applications typically take 8 weeks. Expedited processing available for a fee.
Visa ValidityGrants a 3-year extension, with no cap on renewals. Eligibility for indefinite stay in the UK after five continuous years.
Unsponsored Scale Up Visa UK: Extended Stay Opportunity

5. Switching to Scale Up Visa in the UK

For overseas nationals already in the UK on different visa types, the option to switch to the Scale Up Visa offers a unique opportunity to engage in high-skilled employment with dynamic UK scale-up businesses. This section provides key information for those looking to transition to the Scale Up Visa, detailing eligibility criteria, costs, and other relevant considerations. It’s important to note that the process and requirements may differ slightly from those for first-time applicants.

Eligibility for SwitchingOverseas nationals in the UK can switch to the Scale Up Visa if they meet the necessary criteria. Excludes visitors, short-term students, and some other visa categories, who must apply from outside the UK.
Associated CostsApplication Fee: £715.
Healthcare Surcharge: Annual £624 for NHS access.
Financial Requirement: Minimum of £1,270, maintained for 28 days, unless covered by a UK sponsor.
Extending the Scale Up Worker VisaNew Sponsorship: Not required for extension.
Earnings Requirement: Annual PAYE income of £33,000 for half the visa duration, increasing to £34,600 after 11 April 2023.
Dependent EligibilityFamily Members: Spouses, partners, and children under 18.
Financial Evidence for Dependents: £285 for a spouse/partner, £315 for the first child, £200 for each additional child. May be waived with UK sponsor support.
Benefits of the Scale Up Visa UKFor Applicants: Employment flexibility, pathway to residency, family reunion opportunities.
For UK Sponsors: Expedited verification, reduced costs, advantages over the Skilled Worker Visa, supporting global talent.
Comprehensive Guide to the Scale Up Visa UK: Transitioning, Costs, Extension, and Benefits

6. Endorsement Process for the Scale Up Visa UK

The endorsement process for the Scale Up Visa UK is a critical pathway for entrepreneurs aiming to expand their businesses within the UK’s dynamic market. This procedure not only assesses business viability but also aligns with the UK’s objective of fostering economic growth by attracting international entrepreneurial talent. Below is a detailed summary outlining the key steps and requirements for securing an endorsement:

Step in Endorsement ProcessDetails
1. Identify an Endorsing BodyChoose an endorsing body authorized by the UK Home Office, with expertise relevant to your business sector.
2. Seek ConsentObtain written consent from the endorsing body to share information with the Home Office, retaining a copy for audit purposes.
3. Prepare the ApplicationCompile evidence such as financial statements, employment records, and a business plan to demonstrate potential for growth and job creation.
4. Submit the ApplicationSubmit the comprehensive application to the chosen endorsing body for evaluation against the Scale Up criteria.
5. Receive the Endorsement LetterThe endorsement letter should include details like the endorsing body’s name, reference number, issue date, applicant’s personal and business information, and a confirmation of meeting the criteria.
6. Notify the Home OfficeThe endorsing body is responsible for informing the Home Office about the issued endorsement to ensure its validity.
Endorsement Process for the Scale Up Visa UK
  • Monitoring and Reporting: The Scale-up route, unlike the Innovator Founder Visa, does not entail stringent monitoring or checkpoint actions by endorsing bodies. This offers more operational flexibility to businesses.
  • Withdrawing Endorsement: An endorsement may be withdrawn if there is a failure in maintaining contact, achieving business objectives, or if the business ceases to meet the Scale-up criteria.

Navigating the endorsement process successfully is pivotal for entrepreneurs seeking to leverage the Scale Up Visa. This process underscores the UK’s commitment to nurturing economic growth by embracing innovative and growth-oriented businesses. Entrepreneurs should carefully prepare to meet the endorsing bodies’ expectations, which are instrumental in determining their eligibility for this visa.

7. FAQs on Scale Up Visa UK

  1. What is the Scale Up Visa UK?

    The Scale Up Visa UK is a special visa category designed for skilled professionals to work in high-growth UK companies, facilitating their contribution to the country’s dynamic business sectors.

  2. Who is Eligible for the Scale Up Visa UK?

    Eligibility includes professionals with a valid job offer from a recognized UK scale-up company, lasting at least 6 months. Applicants should also meet the required skill level, salary threshold, and English language proficiency.

  3. How Do I Apply for the Scale Up Visa UK?

    The application process involves submitting an online form, providing essential documents (like proof of identity, English proficiency, and financial stability), and paying the relevant fees. A Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK scale-up sponsor is essential.

  4. Can I Start a Business in the UK on a Scale Up Visa?

    The Scale Up Visa UK is intended for employment in existing scale-up businesses. Entrepreneurs looking to start or run a business in the UK would need to consider a different visa category, such as the Start-up or Innovator visa.

  5. What are the Requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

    To qualify for ILR, Scale Up Visa holders must complete 5 years of residency in the UK, meet specific work and salary criteria, and demonstrate proficiency in the English language and knowledge about life in the UK.

  6. What Should I Do If My Scale Up Visa Application is Denied?

    If your application is denied, it’s advisable to consult with immigration experts for advice on reapplication or to understand any other options available to you.

  7. How Can a Company Become a Scale-Up Sponsor?

    To become a scale-up sponsor, companies need to demonstrate a minimum of 20% growth in turnover or staff numbers over a three-year period and have at least 10 employees at the start of that period.

  8. How Does the Scale Up Visa Differ from the Skilled Worker Visa?

    While both visas target foreign talent, the Scale Up Visa is specifically for employment in high-growth UK businesses and offers more flexibility after an initial 6-month period. The Skilled Worker Visa has broader eligibility criteria and different conditions regarding roles and sponsors.

  9. What are the Benefits of the Scale Up Visa UK for Applicants?

    The Scale Up Visa UK offers several benefits, including the opportunity to work in rapidly growing UK companies, flexibility in employment after an initial 6-month period with the sponsor, and a pathway to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after 5 years. This visa is ideal for skilled professionals seeking to contribute to the UK’s dynamic sectors and provides opportunities for career advancement and long-term residency.

  10. Can I Transition to Another Type of UK Visa or Residency After Holding a Scale Up Visa?

    Yes, Scale Up Visa holders may transition to other types of UK visas or residency options, depending on their circumstances. After completing 5 years on the Scale Up Visa, individuals are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), provided they meet the necessary criteria. Additionally, visa holders can explore other visa categories if their situation or objectives change, such as switching to a Skilled Worker Visa or applying for a family visa.

This FAQ section aims to clarify the most common questions about the Scale Up Visa UK, offering straightforward answers for potential applicants and UK businesses. For further details please refer to Immigration Rules: Appendix Scale-up Visa.