The Scale-up Worker visa route opened for applications on 22 August 2022.
The UK Government opened this new route to provide fast-growing UK businesses (also called scale-up businesses) greater flexibility and power to employ talented workers from overseas.
The Scale-up Worker visa is unique from other visa routes because a worker can obtain two years’ leave to remain but only need sponsorship for the first six months from the approved scale-up business.
Eligible UK Scale-up Businesses
The UK employer must be an eligible, fast-growing business. Also sometimes called a scale-up business.
To qualify as an eligible Scale-up business, the firm must in the three years before the Home Office approves them to sponsor scale-up workers, fulfil the following criteria:
- Had at least ten employees at the start of the three years; and
- Grown 20% on average, every year, in either employment or turnover.
Eligible businesses will be able to attract highly skilled workers such as:
- Programmers and Software developers
- Research and development professionals
- Financial and investment advisers
As this is a new route, note that it will take time for companies wishing to get the status of sponsors to get their licence applications approved. As such, there are currently no companies with a Scale-up Licence. This is not surprising given that the route only opened.
How to qualify as a Scale-up Worker
To qualify to apply for the Scale-up Worker visa, the applicant must fulfil the following criteria:
- You must have a confirmed job offer to work for at least six months from an approved scale-up business.
- The UK sponsor must be on the list of approved UK employers and listed as a scale-up business.
- The employer has to provide you with a certificate of sponsorship;
- Your job must be on the list of eligible occupations for this visa type;
- You must be paid at least £33,000 per year or £10,10 per hour, or the ‘going rate’ for your occupation, whichever is the highest.
You will have to fulfil an English Language requirement unless you have already proved this in a previous successful visa application.
Applicants will also have to fulfil a maintenance requirement for themselves. Partners and children will also have to fulfil this Please speak to your Breytenbachs consultant for the exact amounts in every case. It is also possible for your employer to support you instead. In such a case, the certificate of sponsorship must confirm this.
Switching to the Scale-up Worker Visa
In certain circumstances, it will be possible to switch to the Scale-up Worker visa from within the UK.
However, switching is not allowed from a visitor visa, short-term student visa, parent of a child student visa, seasonal worker visa or domestic worker visa. You may also not switch if you are on immigration bail or have permission to stay in the UK outside the immigration rules.
If you fall in one of these categories, you will have to leave the UK and apply from abroad.
Spouses and Dependants
You can include your spouse/partner and children in your application. If their application is successful, their visas will end on the same date as the main applicant.
The Home Office define a dependant partner or children as anyone of the following:
- Your husband, wife, civil or unmarried partner;
- Children under 18 years of age, including any children born during your stay in the UK;
- Children over 18 years of age, if they are currently in the UK as your dependant
Right to Work
You will be able to work in your sponsored job for at least six months.
After six months, you can continue working in the sponsored job or choose to leave your sponsored job. You do not need to inform the Home Office if you leave the sponsored job after six months.
Additional work, voluntary work and self-employment are allowed. You can also study while on the Scale-up Worker visa.
However, you will not be allowed to work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.
Length of Stay
It is possible to stay in the UK for two years with a Scale-up Worker visa. You can extend your visa if it expires as often as you like for up to three more years.
After the maximum allowed extension, you should be able to qualify to apply for settlement in the UK.
Immigration Health Surcharge
You will be liable to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for every year you apply to stay in the UK. Your spouse/partner and children will also have to pay the surcharge as part of their application.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
After five years in the UK on the Scale-up Worker visa, you can qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
How Breytenbachs can help you
The Scale-up Worker Visa offers many advantages to talented overseas workers and scale-up businesses inside the UK.
Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have a highly trained and experienced team of consultants dealing with business visas and assisting employers and employees. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.