Every year, thousands of qualified specialists and ambitious entrepreneurs from around the world set their sights on the United Kingdom in pursuit of ideal job opportunities. The allure of the UK is grounded in its rich history, dynamic economy, and vibrant culture. In this article, we’ll delve into the fifth immigration route, known as the UK Scale-Up Worker Visa, which successful British companies use to attract talented foreign specialists for positions listed in the shortage occupation category.
Benefits of the UK Scale-Up Worker Visa
The UK Scale-Up Worker Visa offers a host of advantages to its holders:
- Swift Transition to Freelancing: While you need a certificate of sponsorship to obtain this visa, you are only obligated to work for your sponsor for six months. Afterward, you have the freedom to become a freelancer or seek alternative employment.
- No Renewal of Certificate of Sponsorship: Unlike some other visa types, you do not need a new certificate of sponsorship to extend your visa.
- Job Mobility within the Same Company: Changing positions within the sponsoring company doesn’t necessitate renewing your certificate of sponsorship.
- Long-Term Prospects: The Scale-Up Worker Visa shares the benefits of long-term UK work visas, including the ability to extend it indefinitely, include family members, travel freely, study, take side jobs, or earn extra income as a freelancer. After five years in the UK, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
Eligibility and Sponsorship
To secure a UK Scale-Up Worker Visa, you must be invited to the UK by a British scale-up company facing a shortage of qualified specialists. The company must be a registered sponsor with a valid sponsorship license and the ability to issue certificates of sponsorship.
The British authorities have set specific criteria for sponsors:
- Growth Requirement: In the three years leading up to the sponsorship license application, potential sponsors must demonstrate at least a 20% annual growth in turnover or headcount.
- Minimum Employee Count: At the outset of the three-year period, the company must have a minimum of ten employees.
For scale-up businesses operating for less than three years, it’s advisable to seek endorsement for your application from a relevant endorsing body, whose list can be found on the government website.
Certificate of Sponsorship Details
A certificate of sponsorship is an essential document created electronically through your sponsor’s sponsorship management system. It should include the following key information:
- Applicant’s name, position in the British company, and prospective salary.
- Minimum employment duration (which should be at least six months).
- Unique ID, serving as proof that it hasn’t been used for another UK visa application and hasn’t been revoked or canceled.
- Certificate validity period, commencing no later than three months from the date of the UK Scale-Up Worker Visa application.
Requirements for UK Scale-Up Worker Visa Applicants
To be eligible for the UK Scale-Up Worker Visa, you must meet the following four main requirements:
- Invitation and Certificate of Sponsorship: You must be invited to work by a successful British scale-up company and possess a valid certificate of sponsorship.
- Shortage Occupation: Your occupation must be on the shortage occupation list.
- Minimum Salary: Your salary should be at least £34,600 per year or match the going rate for your occupation, whichever is higher.
- Commitment to Employment: You must be ready to work for your sponsor for a minimum of six months.
Additionally, standard requirements for UK work visa applicants include being over 18, having good character, demonstrating proficiency in English (at least B1 on the CEFR scale), paying the healthcare surcharge fee for the entire stay in the UK, and providing proof of adequate funds to support yourself and your family until your first salary. Some applicants may also require a negative tuberculosis test, depending on their country of origin.
Application Process and Biometric Residence Card
Applying for a UK Scale-Up Worker Visa can be done conveniently online. Applicants need to complete a form on the government website, attach the required supporting documents, and pay the application fee.
For biometric residence cards, applicants outside the UK typically need to visit a visa center to submit biometrics and have their photo taken. EU citizens, however, may use the UK Immigration: ID Check application for document scans or access the UK Visa and Immigration online service.
Family Members and Dependants
If you wish to bring your spouse or children with you, they must apply for a UK Scale-Up Worker Visa separately. They need to demonstrate their dependence on you. Children aged 18 or older can only obtain this visa if they were previously your dependents on another UK visa, and they must remain financially supported by you without starting their own families.
Processing Times and Fees
After submitting your application and confirming your identity, processing times typically range from three weeks for applications outside the UK to eight weeks for those within the country. There is an application fee of £715 for each applicant, with this fee multiplied by the number of dependents when including a spouse and children.
In the event of an application refusal, the fee is not refunded, making it advisable to seek guidance from immigration advisors to avoid wasting time and money.
The UK Scale-Up Worker Visa represents a pathway for global talent to contribute their skills and expertise to the British economy. With its flexible employment conditions, long-term prospects, and opportunities for family inclusion, it serves as an attractive option for those seeking to advance their careers and make the UK their new professional home. By meeting the eligibility criteria and navigating the application process successfully, ambitious individuals can embark on a rewarding journey to the United Kingdom.