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Scale-up Visa Sponsor

Scale-up visas are a great way for employees to come to the UK to work in high-growth areas and for UK businesses to expand their current talent pool. Whilst they are a great opportunity, there are some specific eligibility criteria and document requirements that need to be met when applying.

Here at Immigration Advice Service, our services range from employment visas and emigrating to the EU to claiming asylum and assisting with judicial reviews. If you have any questions contact us online or give us a call on 0333 305 9375 to speak to our expert team of lawyers today.

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    Introduction to the Scale-up Visa Sponsor Program

    The Scale-up visa sponsor program allows employers in high-growth areas to recruit people to work in highly skilled roles in the UK. As a result, this option is only for specific types of workers depending on their role and field of employment.

    Differing from other types of visas, this sponsorship is specifically intended for highly skilled workers in high-growth sectors (typically with a 20% annual growth rate). Understanding the Scale-up Visa Sponsor Program is important as there are a lot of eligibility criteria to meet and there are various documents you will need when applying.

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    Eligibility Criteria for the Scale-up Visa Sponsor Program

    The first set of eligibility requirements ensures the worker has the skills that are necessary to perform a high-skilled role that will help the business grow, including:

    • To have a job at the required skill level that is at least graduate level
    • To have a salary of at least £34,600 or the ‘going rate’ for the role in question (whichever is highest)
    • To be expected to work for that employer and in that role for a minimum of 6 months
    • To be able to use the English language to the required standard

    There is also a range of eligibility criteria in place for the employer, which are:

    • To have a valid sponsorship licence for the Scale-up route
    • To assign a recognised Certificate of Sponsorship to the worker you want to sponsor and  to pay its fee
    • To keep records for each sponsored worker
    • To understand and comply with all sponsorship duties and to have personnel in place to manage the certificate of sponsorship

    When granted, the applicant will need to stay at the sponsoring company for at least 6 months, after which time they can continue working there without being sponsored. Or they can change jobs or employers without needing another sponsorship, as long as they still meet the above eligibility criteria.

    Documents Required for the Scale-up Visa Sponsor Program

    The main document required for the Scale-up visa is the Certificate of Sponsorship which plays a key role in the eligibility requirements outlined above. This is an electronic record and each one has its own reference number that is when applying for the visa. It must be used within 3 months.

    Other documents required for a Scale-up visa include:

    • A passport or document that demonstrates your identity and nationality
    • A document that proves your ability in the English language
    • Your job title, annual salary, the application code for the job, the name of your employer, and their sponsor licence number (all of which should be on the Certificate of Sponsorship)

    Depending on your specific circumstances, you may need evidence that you have:

    • Enough finances to support yourself in the UK
    • Proof of your relationship with family members if they are applying with you
    • A tuberculosis test result if you are applying from a listed country
    • A valid ATAS certificate if your job involves researching sensitive subjects at a high level.

    Fees and Costs Associated with the Scale-up Visa Sponsor Program

    There are a number of costs associated with applying for the Scale-up visa. You will need to make sure you have the finances to pay the £822 application fee and the healthcare surcharge which is normally £624 per year.

    You will also need to demonstrate that you can support yourself as soon as you arrive in the UK, which means having at least £1,270 available to spend unless you are exempt for particular reasons. In total, you will need £2,716 to apply, pay the surcharge, and support yourself when you arrive.

    Benefits of the Scale-up Visa Sponsor Program

    The main advantage of the Scale-up visa sponsor programme is that the worker has a stable job ready for them when they arrive in the UK. Likewise, the company in question also has a reliable worker for a defined minimum period. However, it is flexible enough to allow the worker to find other work after the minimum 6-month period.

    This is a programme that helps boost the UK economy and retain its edge in high-growth areas whilst also benefiting the broader economy by bringing in more high-paid individuals. The programme is also a great way to establish a foothold in the UK and potentially settle permanently in the long term, once an extra three years have been accepted.

    Compared to other visa routes, the Scale-up visa programme has relatively low application fees which makes it more accessible to those who have less financial resources available to them when applying.

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      Comparison of Scale-up Visa Sponsor Program with Other Visa Programs

      The main competitor for the Scale-up visa is the Skilled Worker which is granted for anywhere between 1 to 5 years instead of the set 2-year period for the Scale-up version. The minimum salary level is also lower at £26,200 instead of £34,600.

      Another key difference is that, with the Scale-up visa, a worker can move on to a different role or employer after 6 months. However, with the Skilled Worker visa, applicants looking to renew or extend their visa will need to be in the role that was originally sponsored.

      Another alternative for the Scale-up visa is the Temporary Work visa which is split into six categories:

      • Charity workers for unpaid/voluntary work
      • Creative workers like actors and musicians
      • Government-authorised exchanges such as academic research, fellowships, or overseas language programmes
      • International agreement visas which are jobs that are covered by international law like diplomatic work
      • Religious workers in monasteries or convents
      • A youth mobility scheme for 18 to 30-year-olds from a number of countries who want to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years

      These are just some examples of the other types of visas offered by the government. We would recommend doing some research and reading some of our other blogs and pages to help figure out which is most appropriate for your circumstances.

      Our team of immigration experts can help you obtain a scale-up sponsorship. Contact us

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        How IAS Can Help With Your Scale-up Visa Sponsorship

        Whether you are an employee or an employer, it can be a complicated process trying to find the right visa for your needs. The Scale-up visa is a great option but there are lots of specific eligibility criteria so it is important to know which visa is the best option for you.

        Here at Immigration Advice Service, employment and business visas are one of our specialist areas. We have a truly global reach and we have had over 5,000 applications accepted to date. We can assist you whether you are from the US, Canada, Ireland, or the UK. If you are looking to emigrate to the EU, hire foreign workers, apply for a work visa, or need help with claiming asylum, we are here to support you at every stage.

        All you need to do is contact us online or give us a call on 0333 305 9375 and one of our expert lawyers will be able to help today.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  If you want to apply for a Scale-up visa sponsorship and you have a valid sponsorship licence, you can complete an online application form, pay the application fee, and submit any additional documents that are required at

                  If you are based outside of the UK then the Scale-up visa will take about 3 weeks to be processed. If you are based within the UK then the process can take up to 8 weeks.

                  Those applying for the Scale-up visa route will be able to move to the UK with their partner and dependent children.