The brand-new Scale-up visa has finally come into force. Described as “the biggest visa improvement in a generation” by the Coalition for a Digital Economy, the Scale-up work visa is designed for the UK’s top high-growth businesses to attract exceptional talent, including scientists, engineers, programmers, and architects.


With the UK facing several challenges to its economy, not withstanding Brexit, the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, and the highest number of job vacancies in decades, this new Scale-up work visa comes at a critical time.


So, how exactly does the Scale-up visa work?


When an applicant applies for this type of visa for the first time, they need to obtain sponsorship from a “qualified” employer for at least 6 months.


The Home Office pointed out that this means that the applicant needs to meet the following requirements when applying for the Scale-up first visa:


  • Obtain a job offer for a work contract of at least 6 months from an employer recognized by the Home Office
  • Hold a valid CoS (Certificate of Sponsorship) issued by a qualified sponsor (that is, an employer) , and the CoS needs to provide relevant information about the applicant’s position
  • The position/job content that the applicant is about to do is suitable for Scale-up application (that is, it needs to meet the RQF 6 technical level )
  • Applicants must have an annual salary of £33,000 and also meet the “going rate” requirements for their type of work


At the same time, when applying, the applicant also needs to meet the English B1 , financial/deposit requirements (28 days of deposit of 1,270 pounds, or have lived in the UK for 12 months, or be sponsored by the employer), and provide a tuberculosis test certificate ( For applicants in need: )


Which types of workers can apply for a Scale-up visa?


The Home Office released a list of all “Scale-up” applicable types of work. Please refer to this link for the full list:


Since RQF level 6 must be reached, these applicable positions are similar to those applicable to the old Tier 2 general work visa (type of work). But of course, the list of types of work may change and be updated over time, and the actual list is still subject to the above-mentioned list published by the Home Office.


Can you change employers within the first 6 months of holding a Scale-up visa?


If the parties involved need to change employers (i.e. “sponsors”) during the “first 6 months” of the “first visa”, they need to apply for a Scale-up visa again (this process is like the current Skilled Worker technical work visa. If the client changes the “sponsor/employer”, they will need to apply for a new visa). However, the Scale-up visa is more flexible, because if the person’s job role changes but they did not change employer, they do not need to apply again.


Moreover, since there is only a ” first 6-month sponsorship system “, as long as the 6 months are completed, the parties can freely change employers and jobs (the sponsored worker can even choose “self-employment”).


However, the parties need to be aware that no matter what job you change to, you should ensure that you can continue to meet the requirements for “renewal” and ” transfer to permanent residence ” in the future.


Extending the Scale-up visa


It is worth mentioning that the Scale-up visa initially has a one-time, two-year validity period. After two years, applicants can apply for “renewal” if they meet the following conditions:


  • The applicant has completed at least 6 months in the work described in the first signed CoS ;
  • If the applicant can prove that in the past two years of holding the “first visa”, at least 50% of the time, the annual salary has reached at least 33,000 pounds (the applicant needs to submit PAYE to prove it).


It should be pointed out here that the applicant can apply for renewal after holding the first Scale-up visa for two years. If the applicant has completed the Scale-up visa for 5 years (it has been renewed once in the process),  wants to continue to apply “Renewal” is also possible.


This means that when the applicant wants to continue to apply for renewal after 5 years , they also need to meet the annual salary of at least 33,000 pounds for at least 50% of the time in the past 5 years (in fact, whenever renewal” is required at least half of the Scale-up visas held in the past need to meet the annual salary requirement of 33,000 pounds).


In addition, although the Scale-up worker visa allows the parties to do part-time or even self-employment in the process (you can do several jobs at the same time), when calculating the annual salary there are strict requirements:


1. During the period, only the income of “single/one” job shall be taken into account

2. Moreover, since the Home Office only accepts “PAYE” certificates, it means that the self-employment of the person concerned cannot be counted.


Supplementary explanation: For example, let’s say an applicant works two jobs at the same time between January and December: the annual salary of job A is 25,000 pounds, and the annual salary of job B is also 25,000 pounds. Then, even if the total annual salary of the two jobs adds up to £50,000, the applicant still does not meet the salary requirements of the Home Office. This is because, when calculating, the Home Office will only use “one salary” as the standard.


To give another example: Let’s assume that the applicant still holds two jobs in the same year; the first job pays £ 35,000 a year and the second £20,000. In this example, the applicant’s first job has already met the £33,000 threshold through their first job. This person qualifies for the Scale-up visa.


According to the explanation of the Home Office, in the “annual salary certificate” of the year, the applicant only needs to submit the income certificate of the “first” job (the one with the higher salary). After the renewal application is successful, the applicant can obtain a one-time 3-year Scale-up visa.


After 5 years of permanent residence – apply for indefinite leave to remain


Like the Skilled Worker visa, Scale-up is also a work visa path that can be transferred to permanent residence after 5 years.


If the applicant wants to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after holding the first visa for 2 years + renewal for 3 years and “full 5 years “, they need to prove the following when applying:


  • The applicant is employed in a job with an annual salary of no less than £33,000 at the time of application (provided by PAYE );
  • The applicant has at least 24 months in the last 3 years (based on the date of “application for indefinite leave to remain”, with an annual salary of at least 33,000 pounds (also requires a PAYE certificate) ;
  • Applicants will also need to pass the Life in the UK exam.


In addition to the above, applicants also need to prove that they have held a qualified and valid work visa for the past 5 years and meet the requirements of “continuous residence” (5-year continuous period).


It is worth mentioning that, in addition to holding a Scale-up visa , the above-mentioned five- year continuous residence period of “full five years” can also be added by holding the following visa paths:


  • Skilled Worker
  • Global Talent
  • Innovator Visa
  • T2 Religious Work Visa Minister of Religion
  • International Sportsperson
  • Representative of an Overseas Business (old system first-generation visa and media representative visa)
  • Other Tier 1 immigrants (except Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneurs)


Converting a Skilled worker visa to a Scale-up visa


Here we specifically explain the situation of holding a Skilled Worker (or the old T2 general work visa) and converting it to a new Scale-up visa.


For example, if you originally held a Skilled Worker visa, and then you want to change jobs and successfully apply for a Scale-up visa through a new employer; then when you change to permanent residence after 5 years, you need to follow the permanent residence application requirements of the Scale-up route (that is, when you want to apply for permanent residence, you are taking a Scale-up visa) .


This means that, assuming that you have already held a Skilled Worker visa (or T2 ordinary work visa) for 3 years, after you change to the new Scale-up work visa,  this allows you to use the Skilled Worker visa + Scale-up visa (3 +2 years) to achieve the purpose of applying for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years.


But the premise is that you need to make sure that at that time, you can meet the (listed above) Scale-up requirements for permanent residence.


This basically means that when you want to change to permanent residence, the first 1: Your current annual salary has reached at least £33,000; 2: No matter whether you held a Skilled Worker or a Scale-up in the “last 3 years” before you transferred to permanent residence , you still need to meet – 3 years For at least 24 months, you must earn at least £33,000 a year.


At the same time, because the two types of work visas have different requirements for “type of work “, if you want to switch from the original Skilled Work visa to the Scale-up visa, you also need to confirm in advance that your own ” type of work” is appropriate.


But of course, if you can meet all the above conditions and successfully transfer from the original Skilled Worker (or T2 ordinary work visa) to the Scale-up visa, you may only be holding the Scale-up for less than 5 years time (even only one year), through the Scale-up path “successfully obtained permanent residency”.


For example, when you originally held a Skilled Worker, your annual salary has always been more than 33,000 pounds. You plan to change companies and need to apply for a new work visa. The new employer is also willing to pay you an annual salary of more than 33,000 pounds. You are also satisfied with the application. Scale-up related conditions. Then, maybe you’ll want to consider applying for a Scale-up work visa instead of continuing on a Skilled Worker work visa in exchange for greater freedom.


On the other hand, for your new employer, if they sponsor you to apply for a Scale-up visa, it will also save you an “Immigration Skills Charge”. Then perhaps, for both of you, Scale-up will be an effective ” win-win ” new option.


Our comments


Lisa’s Law recommends that if you are not very clear about your situation, or if there is something you don’t know how to calculate, you should seek professional legal advice. Moreover, not only employees, but also employers can contact Lisa Immigration Department if they have any questions . Our professional immigration team will give legal advice that best suits your business needs.


The single application fee for a Scale-up visa is £715 , which includes the main applicant and the applicant’s “accompanying family members” (£715 per person). In addition to the visa application fee, applicants are also required to pay a medical surcharge (generally £624 per year).


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