USA and the UK
- What is a Scale-Up Visa?
- What are the requirements to become a UK Scale-Up sponsor?
- What are the worker requirements for a Scale-Up Visa?
- What is the Scale-Up Visa application process?
- What documents are required for a Scale-Up Visa?
- How much does a Scale-Up Visa cost?
- How long is the Scale-Up Visa valid?
- What services does IAS offer?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Scale-Up Visa?
The UK government announced the launching of a new unsponsored point-based visa in their May 2021 ‘New plan for immigration: legal migration and border control strategy statement’. The goal of this new UK visa was to attract the best and brightest talent to the UK, particularly those individuals who are highly skilled and academically elite.
The scale-Up visa allows a recognized UK scale-up business in the UK to hire and recruit foreign nationals with the skills and qualifications necessary to help their company thrive through a fast-track visa that does not require sponsorship. Scale-up businesses are defined as companies experiencing rapid growth and are ready to move to the next stage of their commercial development.
To apply for this UK visa, applicants are not required to have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a valid UK Sponsor Licence holder and can still apply without one. Scale-Up visa holders on this immigration path are allowed to bring eligible dependent family members with them to the UK. They can even apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (UK permanent residence status) after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK.
What are the requirements to become a UK Scale-Up sponsor?
UK businesses who would like to sponsor foreign workers under the scale-up route must be authorized by the Home Office to specifically hire workers in the Scale-Up visa work route. Furthermore, businesses will also need to meet the following requirements:
- Have an average annual average revenue and/or employment growth rate of at least 20% (This must be in the 3 years prior to sponsorship application)
- Have at least ten employees at the beginning of the 3-year period prior to sponsorship application
What are the worker requirements for a Scale-Up Visa?
Non-UK nationals who would like to come to the UK under the Scale-Up visa will need to be at least 18 years old and meet the following requirements:
- The applicant has been offered a highly skilled job offer from a qualifying scale-up business
- The applicant is able to demonstrate that they have the appropriate skill level and qualifications necessary for their intended job role in the UK
- The intended job in the UK will pay at least £33,000 per year, at least £10.58 an hour, and at least the going rate of salary for the role’s specific occupation code
- The applicant is able to meet the basic English language skills requirements
- The applicant is able to meet the basic financial requirements
- The applicant is given the appropriate Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from their intended UK employer
If the scale-up worker is applying for a visa through an unsponsored application, the foreign national will need to meet the following requirements:
- The applicant has been previously granted permission to stay and work in the UK as a scale-up worker
- The scale-up worker has had monthly guaranteed basic gross pay as you earn (PAYE earnings) in the UK that is equivalent to at least £33,000 per year (during that time period, at least 50% of that year(s) was under the Scale-Up Worker Visa)
Scale-up workers who were working in their eligible jobs but were absent due to statutory adoption leave, statutory maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, shared parental leave, or sick leave will still meet the requirement. These absences will be treated as a period where the applicant was still paid the equivalent of the minimum salary required.
For more information regarding what is required, please consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
What is the Scale-Up Visa application process?
The Scale-Up visa application can be made online through the gov.uk website. Applications will be made outside the UK unless the visa applicant is already in the UK and applying to switch to the Scale-Up visa. Partners and dependent children who are applying for a dependant visa will need to apply separately.
As part of the application, applicants will need to complete their application online, submit a variety of supporting documents, pay the corresponding visa fees, and verify their identity. Applicants will need to submit biometric information in the form of a photograph and fingerprints at their nearest UK visa application center. Some applicants may be asked to scan their identity documents via the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ where they will need to create an account with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
What documents are required for a Scale-Up Visa?
When applying for a UK visa through the Scale-Up route, applicants will need to submit the following documents:
- A valid passport or another travel document that confirms the applicant’s identity and nationality
- A valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) which was given to the applicant by their prospective UK employer
- Any evidence regarding the job role in the UK and what it entails (duties and responsibilities, salaries, occupation code, name of UK sponsor, and their license number)
- Evidence that the applicant meets the English language requirement
- Evidence that the applicant is able to meet the financial requirement
- Proof of family relationships (if applying with dependent family members)
- Tuberculosis test results (if applying from a country where this is required)
All documents will need to be submitted in their original form and must be in either English or Welsh. Documents that are not in these two languages will need to be accompanied by certified translations.
How much does a Scale-Up Visa cost?
Applicants applying for the Scale-Up Visa will need to pay the following fees:
- Visa application fee: £259
- Healthcare Surcharge fee: this is calculated as £624 per year
Unless the UK employer is paying for the worker’s start-up costs, scale-up workers will need to have at least £1,270 in their bank account prior to leaving for the UK. This amount of money known as maintenance funds will need to be in the applicant’s bank account for at least 28 days in the 31 days prior to visa application submission.
Furthermore, the amount of money required will be more if the applicant is bringing dependent family members with them to the UK. The amounts for this are as follows:
- For partners/spouses: £285
- For the first child: £315
- For each additional child: £200
How long is the Scale-Up Visa valid?
Foreign nationals who are in the UK under a Scale-Up visa through a sponsored application may stay in the UK for a period of up to 2 years. Individuals who were granted a Scale-Up Visa through an unsponsored application may stay in the UK for a period of up to 3 years.
What services does IAS offer?
At Immigration Advices Services our team of professional lawyers prides themselves on keeping up-to-date on both U.S. and UK immigration law. Our team of immigration professionals is experienced in helping people from all backgrounds achieve their immigration goals.
We offer professional support in all things visa related including the following:
- Guidance on how to apply for and obtain a UK Sponsorship Licence
- Assistance with the UK visa application process
- An eligibility check for the UK Scale-Up visa or other similar UK visas including those for work or family
- Assessing the business’ eligibility to hire scale-up workers
- Liaisoning on your behalf with the UK Home Office
- Help with visa extensions
- Assistance if your visa application was denied
To learn more about how we can best help you, contact us today at +1 844 290 6312 or leave us a message online and we’ll get back to you.
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Existing scale-up workers who have spent at least 5 continuous years in the UK can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status if the scale-up visa holder can:
- Pass the Life in the UK Test
- Meet the basic English Language requirements
- Prove that he/she has met the scale-up worker requirement of being employed at the time of application, paying at least £33,000 per year, and having monthly PAYE earnings equivalent to at least £33,000 per year for a minimum of 24 months of the 3 years prior to ILR application.
When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, Scale-Up visa holders can use the time spent in the UK on the following UK visas towards their 5-year continuous residence requirement:
Once everything has been submitted, the visa application will then be processed. If you are applying for a Scale-Up Visa outside of the UK, you can expect to receive a decision on your visa application within 3 weeks. Those who are in the UK and applying to switch to the Scale-Up Visa will receive a decision within 8 weeks.
If you are in a hurry, you can fast-track visa applications with super-priority service for an additional £800. Through this fast-track service, you will receive a decision within a day or two.
According to UK immigration rules, foreign nationals who are applying for certain visas through the points-based system will need to meet the basic English language requirement. Therefore, Visa applicants will need to have at least a level B1 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) in reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension.
Individuals who have earned a post-secondary degree taught in English, obtained a GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while attending school in the UK, or are from a majority English-speaking country are exempt from the English language ability requirement.
Unless the scale-up worker has an agreement with their UK employer or is already in the UK when applying for a visa, all visa applicants will need to meet the basic financial requirement in order to be approved for their UK Scale-Up visa. This requirement is as follows:
- The applicant has at least £1,270 in funds in their bank account
- At least £1,270 has been in the applicant’s bank account for a consecutive 28 days in the 31 day-period preceding visa application
If the UK sponsor is financially sponsoring the foreign worker, this should be communicated in the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).