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UK Scale-Up Worker visa

Foreign employees can switch to work for a new sponsor after six months. A chance to bring your family with you and obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain and UK citizenship

What Is a UK Scale-Up Worker Visa?

A UK Scale-up Worker visa is a relatively new visa route. “Scale-up” refers to a fast-growing British company that has to look outside the domestic labour market to keep growing.

A UK Scale-up visa is designed to facilitate the employment of foreign specialists. It is not only beneficial to UK employers but to foreign employees too.

A UK Scale-up Worker visa allows you to relocate to the UK, bring your family with you, work, and study. Moreover, you must work for your sponsor for only six months, after which you can choose to leave them and work for someone else. A UK Scale-up visa leads to settlement, or UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), and British citizenship. Imperial & Legal’s immigration advisors will be happy to help you reach your goals.

Advantages of UK Scale-Up Worker Visa

  1. As a foreign specialist employed by a scale-up business, you can stay in the UK for two years.
  2. You can leave your sponsor after six months and find another employer without applying for another UK visa.
  3. You can study, volunteer, and have a second job, including self-employment.
  4. You can extend your visa for three years even if you are not sponsored, provided you met the earnings requirements during at least half of your stay on your current Scale-up visa.
  5. After living in the UK for five years on a UK Scale-up Worker visa, you can apply for ILR. If you do not want to do this for some reason, you can simply keep extending your UK Scale-up visa every three years.
  6. A UK Scale-Up Worker visa allows you to bring your spouse, partner, and children. Your dependants, just like you, can be eligible for settlement and UK citizenship.
  7. You will live in a safe country with a stable economy and a lot of unique development opportunities. Besides, working in the UK is a valuable experience, which is always a bonus to your CV.

Like other UK visas, a UK Scale-up visa has specific requirements for both foreign workers and their British employers.

Requirements of UK Scale-up Worker Visa 

To get a UK Scale-up Worker visa, you must:

  1. Apply for a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations and get a job offer for at least 6 months. 
  2. Get a certificate of sponsorship from your British employer with the four-digit occupation code for the role you have been offered in the UK. 
  3. Be paid at least a minimum salary in your job.
  4. Speak English to at least the B1 level on the CERF scale. 

Apart from the special requirements listed above, there are some general ones too. The Rules require that the applicant must: 

  • Be of age 
  • Have a clean immigration record  
  • Have no debt to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

You must also include your negative tuberculosis test results if you have lived in a listed country for the last few months.

English Language Requirement for UK Scale-up Worker Visa

To qualify for a UK Scale-up Worker visa, you must have at least a B1 level of English under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). 

It means that you must speak and understand English well enough to talk about your professional and personal life. You do not have to speak like a native person, but you must demonstrate that no misunderstanding could interfere with your professional activities in the UK.

You can prove your knowledge of English by passing a special test or providing a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English by a university or a college approved by the UK government.

Nationals of 17 former British colonies do not have to prove their knowledge of English. They include Caribbean jurisdictions that offer citizenship by investment programs.

What Businesses are Considered Scale-up in the UK?

To qualify as a scale-up business, a UK-based company must meet several criteria determined by the Home Office. If a UK employer wants to hire foreign specialists, they must obtain a sponsorship licence

A sponsorship licence gives a UK company the right to employ foreigners and issue certificates of sponsorship. Besides, they will be responsible for the invited specialists and must monitor their attendance and comply with the salary requirements. All licensed sponsors are listed in the Register of licensed sponsors published on the official government website.

A business is considered scale-up and allowed to employ specialists from outside the UK if it complies with two requirements:

  1. In the three years immediately before it is included in the Register of licensed sponsors, the business must grow by 20% or more each year in either headcount or turnover. 
  2. The business must have at least 10 employees at the very beginning of these three years.

How To Find Out If a Job is Eligible?

To obtain a UK visa, a foreign employee needs a certificate of sponsorship; it is an electronic record from an online register. Assigning a certificate of sponsorship to a foreign worker means that:

  • A scale-up business used its sponsorship licence to make a record in the system.
  • The applicant has the certificate number to access the details of the offered job, including the four-digit occupation code.

British sponsors usually know the Rules and would only employ foreign specialists when it is a job listed among eligible occupations.

At the same time, a sponsored applicant applying for a UK Scale-up Worker visa must also do their research and check what job they will do in the UK, what is their occupation code and whether their job is among eligible occupations. Therefore, before you include a certificate of sponsorship in your application, make sure that your job qualifies.

You can either find the best job for you to relocate to the UK on a UK Scale-up visa route on your own or get in touch with our experienced immigration advisors.

UK Scale-up Worker Visa Salary Requirements 

There are several ways to calculate a salary of a foreign worker employed by a scale-up UK company:

Salary calculation 



The minimum annual rate for a foreign employee 

£33,000 per year


The hourly rate

£10.10 per hour


The ‘going rate’ for eligible occupations 

According to the table of eligible occupations

A foreign worker will be paid whichever is the highest out of the options above. 

For example, a growing London company needs a procurement manager. The usual salary for this job does not exceed £36,000 per year before tax. If they want to employ a foreigner, they will have to raise the salary to at least £39,300, which is the going rate for procurement managers.

How Much Does it Cost to Apply for a UK Scale-up Worker Visa?

There are two amounts to keep in mind when applying for a UK Scale-up visa:

  • Application costs
  • The money to support yourself in the UK before you get your first salary.

The application fee is £715. If you want to bring your family with you, you will have to pay extra for each dependant. If the Home Office does not grant you a visa, you will not get this fee back. Another cost is a healthcare surcharge; it is £624 for each year of your stay, and the total amount must be paid at the time of application.

If you apply for a UK Scale-up Worker visa from outside the UK, you will also be charged for having your photograph and fingerprints taken at a UK visa application centre. 

You will also need to prove that you have enough savings to support yourself when you arrive in the UK. You must have the equivalent of £1,270 at the current exchange rate on your bank account. The money must be deposited at least 28 days before applying for a UK Scale-up Worker visa. If you want to bring your family with you, you must have additional funds to support them. For further information, please contact our immigration advisors.


UK Scale-up Worker Visa Extension

You can apply to extend your UK Scale-up visa after two years if both of the following are true:

  1. You have worked in your sponsored job for at least six months.
  2. You have earned at least £33,000 per year during 12 out of the 24 months of your stay.

You cannot stay in the UK on the same visa if you do not work for your sponsor for a minimum of six months, so the key extension criterium is your earnings. You must earn over £33,000 per year for at least half of your stay in the UK on a UK Scale-up Worker visa.

Since you must be in the UK to apply to extend your UK Scale-up visa, you will get a decision within 8 weeks. Therefore, allow two to three months for the whole visa extension process or be ready to pay for a fast-track option.

You can try to get a UK visa yourself, but if don’t have experience in immigration matters, you might get a visa refusal. This can be due to errors in your application form, incorrect paperwork, missing information, or unreliable sponsors.

With Imperial & Legal’s guidance, you will save time and money. Our immigration advisors are regulated and will help you resolve all your issues. That is especially important for first-time applicants whose work and life in the UK are at stake. The standard process of applying for a UK Scale-up Worker visa includes four steps.

Getting in touch with Imperial & Legal
Timeframe: 1 day
Imperial & Legal’s experts are UK-regulated immigration advisors. You can book a consultation at our office, over the phone, or via Zoom/Skype. During the consultation, our immigration advisor will ask you questions about your circumstances and plans and answer all your questions. Once a service agreement is signed, our experts will start working on the case, provided you have a certificate of sponsorship.
Getting your visa application ready
Timeframe: 1–3 weeks
Imperial & Legal’s immigration advisors will officially represent you until you get a decision on your UK Scale-up Worker visa. They will prepare a list of documents you will need to apply for a UK Scale-up visa, arrange for professional translation of documents into English, draft detailed cover letters, and fill in an application correctly. If your employer does not have a sponsorship licence, we can help them get it and then obtain a UK visa for you, but this will require more time.
Submitting your application and visiting a UK visa application centre
Timeframe: 1 week
Once everything is ready, our immigration advisors will pay relevant fees on your behalf and submit an online application. They will also upload all the supporting evidence and make an appointment for you at a UK visa application centre to have your photograph and fingerprints taken.
Obtaining your UK Scale-up Worker visa and relocation to the UK
Timeframe: 3 weeks
You will get a decision on a UK Scale-up Worker visa within three weeks of your application. Once your application is approved and a UK Scale-up visa is granted, you can move to the UK. You will receive your biometric residence permit upon arrival. Imperial & Legal provides a full range of services, not just immigration support. We can ensure that your relocation to another country is smooth, and help you find suitable accommodation, a nursery or a school. Most clients come back to us to extend their visas and obtain an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and British citizenship.

FAQ about UK Scale-up Worker Visa

Do I need to provide additional documents besides those included in the standard list for a UK Scale-up Worker visa?

Mandatory documents for a UK Scale-up visa include a passport, evidence that you have enough funds to support yourself, sometimes a criminal record certificate, tuberculosis test results, etc.

This immigration route is for those who come to the UK to work, so you must also provide the following with your visa application:

  1. A certificate of sponsorship with a reference number;
  2. Your employer’s details and their sponsor licence number;
  3. Your job’s occupation code, job title, and salary;
  4. Proof of your knowledge of English (test results or degree).

If your job involves researching a sensitive subject and, from your sponsor’s point of view, requires a high level of preparation, you will need a valid ATAS (the Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate.

Can I obtain a UK Scale-up Worker visa without savings?

Yes, you can. An applicant for a UK Scale-up Worker visa does not have to show £1,270 in their bank if one of the following is true:

  • You are applying from inside the UK where you have stayed on legal grounds for over 12 months.
  • Your UK employer can cover your costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1,270.

If your British sponsor is going to support you until you get your first salary, the ‘Additional data’ section on your certificate of sponsorship must contain this information.

Can I count my earnings from another job or my self-employment earnings towards the minimum earnings requirement for my UK Scale-up Worker visa extension?

Although you can leave your sponsored job after you have worked for your sponsor for six months and start another job, your earnings during at least half of your stay in the UK must be equal to or over £33,000 per year. Note that this only includes salary with the necessary tax payments and not your self-employment income.

If you have worked in two jobs in the UK, you must report your additional income. However, it will not count toward the earnings requirement. £33,000 per year must be your income from one of the jobs.

Want to come to the UK to work, study or holiday?

We are OISC regulated immigration lawyers making applications on behalf of our clients for many years. Get in touch today to start your application.