Sanwar Ali: UK Scale up visa - Will it be a success?


Oxford Street, London, England

Sanwar Ali,

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By Sanwar Ali:

The UK Government has tried various schemes in recent years to make it easier to bring in migrants that the economy needs.  However, the schemes have not all been successful.  Many have turned out to be too difficult and expensive for migrants and their employers.  The Scale-up visa may be worth considering in some situations as an alternative to the Skilled Worker visa.

Scale-up visa only available to a limited number of employers

Launched on 22 August 2022 the visa is only available for a limited number of high growth employers:

  • Needs to show either annualised turnover or staff growth of 20% over the last three years.
  • Needs to have had at least ten employees at the start of the three year period.
  • The employer also needs to obtain a sponsor licence.

There are various benefits to the Scale-up visa:

  • The employee can work for any employer after six months.  The migrant can also be self-employed.
  • There is no immigration skills charge.   For a company that has to pay the higher Immigration Skills Charge rate of £1,000 a year this can mean a saving of £5,000 over five years.
  • There is faster processing of the UK visa application.
  • Seems to be much easier to obtain than the Global Talent visa, which only a relatively small number of people qualify for.

Problems with the Scale-up visa route:

  • The employer still needs to have a sponsor licence.  This can be a complicated and time consuming process.
  • For an employee that is in high demand there is a risk that as soon as the six month period has ended the employee will leave.
  • The employee must be paid under PAYE for six months.  There is no flexibility to use what may be a more tax efficient method of payment.
  • The minimum salary is £33,000 a year which in many cases will be higher than the minimum salary that needs to paid under the Skilled Worker visa route.

Will the Scale-up visa be a success?

There are a limited number of employers who can apply for this scheme.  Also, many employers may be worried that the employee will leave after six months when able to work for any employer.  It remains to be seen how successful the new Scale-up visa scheme will be in practice.

The Scale-up visa scheme is still expensive.   The Government fees include £624 a year for the immigration health surcharge and £715 for the application visa fee.  One major benefit may be that many more people are likely to qualify for Scale-up visa compared to the Global Talent visa. can help with a Sponsor Licence

If you need help with employing Skilled Workers and help to apply for a Sponsor Licence, including complying with your Sponsor Licence obligations, can help.

For more information and advice on Sponsor licences, please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at