Scale-Up Visa – what we know so far
During the recent autumn Budget announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak provided further details on the new Scale-Up Visa route which is set to be introduced in the new year. The route was initially announced in the spring Budget, with a policy paper entitled ‘UK Innovation Strategy: Leading the future by creating it’, more details were provided in July 2021. Whilst the full details are not yet available, here’s what we know so far.
What is it and who is it aimed at?
The Scale-Up Visa route will be a ‘fast track’ visa service and is due to be implemented in spring 2022. The route will be open to individuals with a high-skilled job offer from a ‘scale-up’ company and can be utilised by individuals from all sectors, provided the company sponsoring the application meets the relevant criteria.
For a company to be considered a ‘scale-up’ and therefore able to sponsor individuals on this route, it must have experienced annual average growth of over 20% in either revenue or employment over a three-year period and have had a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the period. Provided a company meets this criterion they will be able to apply through a fast track verification process to use the route.
The new Scale-Up route will still form part of the points-based immigration system and any job offers will need to meet the minimum salary threshold of at least £33,000 while the individual will also need to pass an English language proficiency requirement in order to qualify.
Individuals who are successful in obtaining a visa via the Scale-Up route will be able to extend the visa to a maximum period of five years and the visa will count towards achieving settlement in the UK.
Why is it being introduced?
Back in July 2021, the UK Innovation Strategy policy paper stated that the UK is seeing a growing number of scale-up businesses across a wide range of sectors and markets. The Government believes that these scale-up businesses are more likely to undertake innovation activity than more conventional SMEs and this new visa route is an attempt to support them in doing so. During the autumn Budget announcement, the Chancellor stated that the Government is aiming to ‘make it quicker and easier for fast-growing businesses to bring in highly skilled individuals from around the world’ and that it was ‘part of the plan to make our visa system for international talent the most competitive in the world’.
It remains to be seen how effective this new visa route will be. However, the suggestion of a fast track verification process for scale-ups will be welcome news for potential sponsors who may otherwise have had to deal with the long delays for a sponsor licence that are currently blighting sponsorship under the ordinary points-based system.