UNITED KINGDOM: Scale-Up Route Goes Live

August 24, 2022

Further to the Statement of Changes published in March this year, the Scale-Up route is now live and applications for visas under this route may now be made.

UK businesses demonstrating impressive growth will be eligible to sponsor gifted individuals, from scientists and engineers to architects and programmers, to support the business growth and contribute to boosting the UK’s economy.

Who can be a Scale-Up sponsor?

Businesses will be eligible to apply for a sponsor licence in order to sponsor highly-skilled individuals in this new category if they can demonstrate that they have:

  • achieved growth of 20% or more in either employment or turnover year-on-year for at least three years; and
  • employed a minimum of 10 people at the start of the three years.

Once approved by the Home Office, the Scale-Up licence will be valid for four years, unless it is surrendered or revoked. During this period, the licence may be used to sponsor individuals applying under this category.

What are the requirements for applicants under this route?

The Scale-up route offers both sponsored and unsponsored application options. The unsponsored route is only available to individuals who have already completed an initial period of leave under the category and so this will not apply to many individuals in the near future.

To qualify for a Scale-up visa via a sponsored application, an individual will need to meet the following requirements:

  1. They must be aged 18 or over;
  2. Have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship issued by the sponsoring business who holds a valid Scale-up sponsor licence and is A-Rated;
  3. The role to be filled by the individual must be a genuine vacancy;
  4. The role to be filled must be at an appropriate skill level;
  5. The salary will be equal to or exceed both £33,000 per year, £10.58 per hour and the ‘going rate’ for the job;
  6. They must meet the English language requirement to at least CEFR Level B1 in all four components (reading, writing, speaking and listening); and
  7. They must be able to maintain themselves and any family members without relying on public funds.

The main distinction compared to other sponsored visa routes is that the Scale-Up visa allows businesses to employ high-skilled candidates who will receive two years’ leave to remain in the UK without requiring further sponsorship or permission beyond the first six months.

Essentially, individuals granted under this route must be employed in the job recorded on their Certificate of Sponsorship (this being assigned to the individual under the Scale-Up licence for use in their visa application) for the first six months of their permission. At the end of the sponsored period the sponsor duties will fall away. At this point the individual can either choose to remain employed by the sponsor or leave their employment. Holders of this visa may also take up additional employment (including self-employment and voluntary work) and study (subject to the ATAS requirements).

Individuals with this type of leave will not be permitted to access public funds or to work as a professional sportsperson.

The Scale-Up route potentially offers the individual to apply for settlement in the UK after completing five years’ residence. Qualifying family members may also apply as dependents under this route.

Organisations and individuals impacted by this development are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.


This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Chase for any case- or company-specific assessments.