Employment opportunities in the United Kingdom are the highest they have been for nearly two decades, the economy is recovering from a huge epidemic, and there is no longer free movement within the European Union. As a result, a series of new work visa pathways have opened under March’s Immigration Rules reforms and for some businesses this cannot come soon enough.
The Government’s Scale-Up Visa was outlined in their March Statement of Changes, and while it is not scheduled to begin until August 22 of this year, COADEC (Coalition of a Digital Economy) has already lauded it as “the most significant visa improvement in a generation”.
With the added complications and requirements of sponsorship it may be worth speaking with an Immigration Solicitor – who will be able to explain everything to you and let you know what your options are.
How Does the Scale-up Visa Work?
The Scale-up visa path will allow UK Scale-ups to hire exceptional workers with the necessary skills to assist with business expansion. It is a five-year settlement path that, while initially sponsored by an eligible Scale-up, later becomes unsponsored. This immigration route allows a Scale-up Worker’s dependent children and spouse to join them.
The government of the United Kingdom has endorsed the Scale-up path as a simpler, more flexible, and quicker route. There will be no Immigration Skills Charge for the Skilled Worker category or the Specialist or Senior Worker route, both of which are currently included in the Global Business Mobility category.
The new Scale-up Worker visa consists of two distinct phases. As with previous sponsored paths, the initial two-year stage requires a job offer from an authorised Scale-up sponsor, and the applicant must meet sponsorship, skill level, and wage requirements, as well as financial and English language standards. Based on previous PAYE earnings from the UK, the next three stages essentially permit Scale-up Workers to remain without sponsorship.
Scale-up Workers will be able to switch between sponsored positions for the first six months, and then after at least six months in sponsored employment, Scale-up Visa Workers will also be able to take on any work to include self-employed and voluntary labour, except for work as a professional coach or athlete.
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Who May Qualify To Sponsor A Scale-Up Worker?
Applicants seeking Sponsored Scale-up visas must possess a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from an A-Rated Scale-up sponsor that has not been utilised or withdrawn previously. Under this new Scale-up procedure, the Home Office must authorise an eligible sponsor to sponsor the work in question. To qualify as a Scale-up, a sponsor must exhibit annualised revenue or staffing growth of at least 20% over the preceding three years and have at least ten employees at the beginning of the period.
The adaptability of this new immigration route originates from the fact that, unlike previous immigration routes, a sponsoring employer need only indicate that an applicant must work exclusively for them for at least the first six months of their visa.
Who Qualifies as A Scale-Up Employee?
As with all visa sponsorships, the Home Office must be convinced that the sponsored applicant is filling a legitimate opening.
The salary requirement is at least £33,000 per year (more than the £25,600 minimum for a Skilled Worker). The market salary for the sponsored post should be at least £10.58 per hour. Compensation cannot include allowances or other advantages in addition to the stipulated gross basic income, as is the case for those on Skilled Worker visas.
Applicants must additionally fulfil an English language requirement (CEFR level B1) and, unless they have resided in the UK for at least twelve months, a financial requirement, either by an A Rated sponsor or by holding at least £1,270 for 28 days in a bank account.
How Does The Unsponsored Portion Of The Scale-Up Visa Function?
Only through this flexible immigration route can Scale-up Workers enter the second stage of up to three years during which they do not necessitate sponsorship if their previous UK PAYE income has exceeded £33,000 per year for at least fifty percent of the time they were initially approved to remain as a Scale-up worker. It is inappropriate to have other sources of income, such as foreign income or income from self-employment.
Before filing for a Scale-up visa after two years of employment, a worker must demonstrate appropriate PAYE earnings over a period of at least 12 months during the first two years of employment. This is in addition to the English language proficiency and financial requirements of a Scale-up Worker, both of which are likely to be met automatically at this stage of the recruitment process.
What Are The Prerequisites For A Scale-Up Worker To Establish Residency In The United Kingdom?
Workers may be able to petition for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom after five years of continuous qualifying residence in the nation.
To be eligible for settlement, a person must be working in the United Kingdom and earning at least £33,000 per year in PAYE at the time of application. Furthermore, in the three years preceding the date of your application, you must have received at least £33,000 per year in PAYE wages in the UK for at least 24 months.
The qualifying income and pay treatment during times of authorised absence are the same when calculating points for authority to remain under the unsponsored approach as they are if calculating points for permission to remain under the sponsored technique.
What Advantages Does A Scale-Up Visa Offer?
The UK government has marketed its flagship Scale-up visa as a “rapid” and more simplified option to the Skilled Worker visa for qualified enterprises and people. While the lowest skill level and income criteria are higher than for the existing Skilled Worker visa, the lack of a skills fee and the short sponsorship term may help firms minimise costs and bureaucracy.
There are also questions about how the sponsorship side of the process will work in practise and how simplified it will be, such as when and how firms will be able to obtain a license and what regulatory restrictions will be imposed on them.
Individuals interested in working with British scale-ups may be interested in the Scale-up visa because, while they must work for the sponsor for at least six months, they can also participate in other activities, including self-employment, during and after their sponsored job expires.
If you need assistance with your choices, please contact Mishoura, who can put you in touch with a specialist Immigration Lawyer who can walk you through the procedure, answer your questions, and inform you of all your alternatives.