Recently, the Home Office launched the new Scale-up visa for employers who are experiencing a sustained period of high growth. B P Collins’ business immigration team highlights what businesses need to know.
In order to be a qualifying Scale-up sponsor, employers must have:
- An annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous three years. This is assessed based on either the business’ turnover or staff count.
- A minimum of ten employees at the start of the relevant three year period.
Like the Skilled Worker visa, workers sponsored under the Scale-up route must speak English, be employed in a job at the required skill level and be paid a minimum salary. However, for Scale-up visas a narrower range of jobs meet the skill level requirement and the minimum salary is higher (£33,000 per year or the going rate rather than £25,600 per year or the going rate).
However, the most important difference between the two is that under the Scale-up route, employers will only sponsor a worker for the first six months of the two year duration of a Scale-up visa. After those first six months, the worker can hand in their notice without having to tell the Home Office and without losing their right to live and work in the UK.
At the end of the two-year period, the Scale-up worker can make a further unsponsored application for an additional period of three years leave to remain. Once a worker has 5 years of continuous residence in the UK they can apply for permanent stay.
Scale-up or Skilled Worker?
The scale-up route is undoubtedly going to be attractive for applicants. They will only need to work for their sponsor for six months and then they will have a route to settlement in the UK, which gives them substantial flexibility about the work they do. But will employers be willing to sponsor applicants under the Scale-up route?
Given the considerable time, effort and expense that it can take to acquire a sponsor licence, many employers will probably take comfort in the fact that a worker sponsored under the Skilled Worker route remains a sponsored employee for the duration of their visa and therefore does not have total freedom to hand in their notice after just six months.
However, employers can take advantage of the Scale-up visa to fill short-term staff requirements for highly skilled workers. The option to remain in the UK for work after the expiry of their fixed-term contract will make this a more attractive proposal for workers considering a short-term job offer.
Expert legal advice
For advice on the new Scale-up visa requirements and application process as well as information on how to apply and maintain a sponsor licence, please contact B P Collins’ business immigration team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01753 889995.
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