What is the UK Scale-up visa?
With 47% of scaling companies employing talent from outside the UK, the talent shortage in a post-Brexit Britain is set to disproportionately impact organisations in the early stages of scaling growth. Organisations are therefore looking at the new Scale-up visa as an exciting new immigration route that will cut the wait times for new hires to come to the UK.
In response to concerns about access to talent, and to help support the UK Government’s bid to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business, the UK Scale-up visa was officially launched on August 22nd by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The new points-based visa aims to allow startups and scale-ups to gain access to global talent by lessening some of the restrictive requirements compared to other immigration application types available in the U.K.
What is the Scale-up route?
In order to meet the requirements for the Scale-up visa, applicants will need a sponsored job offer from an authorised UK scale-up company. Companies will therefore need to be verified as a registered scale-up in the UK. To register for this route, a company will need to demonstrate that they:
- Have had annual average employment or revenue growth rate over a three-year period of greater than 20%, and
- Had a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period.
Once the company is listed as an approved scaling firm, the employee would be able to submit the visa application with the local authority provided that they:
- Are 18+
- Meet the English language criteria
- Are skilled to graduate level (RFQ 6 or higher)
- Have a Certificate of Sponsorship from your new employer with information about the offered role
- Have an appropriate salary as determined by the UK government, tied to the “going rate” based on the specific role.
In general, for most work the salary threshold of either £10.58 per hour or a minimum salary of £33,000 per year (whichever is higher). This is a good option for employees on a lower salary threshold ( within the UK earnings bracket), who might be entering the UK for the first time.
Benefits to the Employee:
The Scale-up visa, when approved, is valid for two years, though extensions of 3 years are possible. The new route is therefore a “route to settlement”, and allows that after a period of 5 continuous years in the UK, the Scale-up visa recipient would be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Unlike the Skilled Worker Visa, which is linked to the specific jobs for the validity period of the visa, the primary benefit of the Scale-up visa is that it provides more long-term flexibility. At the time of lodging the application and for the first six months after arriving in the UK, an applicant needs to be sponsored by their eligible Scale employer in the UK, and then transition into an unsponsored route for the remaining 18 months of the visa validity period. Dependent partners and dependent children can join a Scale-up worker on this visa route.
Benefits to the Company
The obvious benefit is, of course, access to talent. But the Scale-up visa is equally about preventing companies from redomiciling to other places with easier access to that talent or entering other new markets. Fintech tops the list of industries most likely to benefit from the Scale-up visa, and the new scheme furthers the effort to preserve London as the financial capital of Europe.
It is also worth considering that as employees are only tied to the sponsored scheme for 6 months, scaling companies might be able to find team members and leads with not only relevant industry experience but an experience that comes from other scaling companies. This talent pool would be accessible to other companies who do not yet have their UK government-recognised scale-up credentials and could serve as leaders in fledgling companies by bringing their scale-up experience with them.
If you are an overseas business looking to scale into the United Kingdom, the Scale-up visa might be the best route to assist with bringing talented individuals into your workforce. If you require more information or need any assistance, Centuro Global can apply for the visa on your behalf and assist you in your application. Please do not hesitate to contact us.