Aug 19, 2023
Scale-up companies thrive on diverse talent, but bringing in a skilled workforce from overseas isn’t always a quick, easy and cost-effective process for those involved.
The UK Scale-up Visa offers a promising solution, providing a fast track for companies to hire eligible talent from outside the UK. Let’s unpack what this visa offers, analysing the opportunities and drawbacks to consider.
What is the UK Scale-Up Visa?
Before diving in, let’s clarify the UK Scale-Up Visa. As part of the Government’s bid to make the UK a global innovation hub by 2035, the UK Scale-up Visa was introduced in 2022 to support scale-up companies in quickly recruiting overseas talent to help drive growth.
Read more about what the visa entails, who’s eligible, and how to apply here.
The importance of international talent for scale-ups
According to a survey by the Scaleup Institute, 83% of scale-ups employ staff from outside the UK. This underlines the potential impact of the Scale-up Visa on these growing businesses.
Anyone who meets the following criteria:
- Meets the English language criteria
- Is skilled to graduate level (RFQ 6 or higher)
- Has a Certificate of Sponsorship from the respective employer
- Has an appropriate annual salary tied to the going rate of the role, or £34,600, whichever is higher
See here for a more detailed breakdown of the UK Scale-up Visa eligibility.
Pros of UK Scale-Up Visa
Access to global talent
Almost half (45%) of scale-ups deem fast-track visas essential or critical when recruiting international talent. The UK Scale-up Visa provides a streamlined and cost-effective pathway to access highly skilled global workers, empowering you to cultivate a diverse team essential for your growth trajectory.
- There is no Immigration Skills Charge (ISC), saving sponsors up to £1,000 annually.
- Depending on the employee’s circumstances, there are lower visa application fees than the Skilled Worker Visa.
- The Scale-up Visa provides flexibility and independence to both the sponsor and the migrant worker, as the visa only requires a 6-month sponsorship.
- The worker needs to be tied to the sponsoring employer for the initial six months, after which they can switch roles within the organisation and beyond without needing a new visa application.
Path to settlement
- This route can lead to settlement opportunities in the UK after five years.
- Family members can also apply for dependent visas, making the route enticing for individuals wanting to build their lives in the UK with loved ones.
Lower compliance duties
- Sponsorship compliance duties to the Home Office drop away after the initial six months, reducing administrative burdens for the sponsoring company.
Cons of the UK Scale-Up Visa
Higher minimum salary requirement
The UK Scale-up Visa requires the employee to earn a higher minimum salary (£33,000 per year up to 11 April 2023, or £34,600 from 12 April 2023) than that required for the Skilled Worker Visa (£26,000).
Employee retention risks
Given that the employee is only required to remain in employment with their sponsor for six months, there is no guarantee that they won’t move on to new endeavours after that period. This poses challenges for longer-term strategic planning and workforce stability, which businesses should consider before providing a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
Though there is a reduction in compliance duties after the initial 6-month period, your business still needs to apply for a new scale-up sponsor licence to sponsor your employee (another admin task to add to your pile).
All-in-one solutions like Centuro Connect save your time and resources from handling such cases so that you can focus on scaling.
Weighing out the pros and cons
Despite the UK Scale-up Visa presenting its drawbacks, it’s mostly an exciting new route that will make life easier for both sponsors and migrant workers, providing a fast-track lane to hiring international talent.
Do you want to tap into the global talent pool to drive growth for your scale-up? Talk to one of our immigration experts for free to discuss how we will support you on your journey.