The Autumn Budget brought further details of the new ‘Scale Up’ visa, initially announced in the Spring Budget within a policy paper entitled ‘UK Innovation Strategy: Leading the future by creating it’. Full details of the visa programme are still yet to be released, but below we have summarised what we know so far.
The new Scale Up visa system aims to encourage innovation by streamlining the process for ‘Scale Up’ businesses to bring those who are “very highly skilled” and “academically elite” to the UK. Scale Up businesses are those who are deemed to be fast growing, fulfilling the following requirements:
- an annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a three-year period greater than 20%; and
- a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period.
Businesses meeting these criteria, currently estimated to be around 34,000 in number, will be able to apply via a Fast-Track verification process to use the Scale Up visa route. This will be a welcome change for eligible businesses who will no longer need to apply for a sponsor licence, providing for a quicker and more simplified route to fill highly skilled UK jobs with the best international talent.
The Scale Up visa will form part of the points-based immigration system and therefore individual applicants will need to have an offer for a highly skilled job with a salary of at least £33,000 per year. They must also pass the language proficiency requirement. Those eligible will no longer need to be formally sponsored by the relevant Scale Up business. Eligible individuals will be able to extend the visa to a maximum period of five years, and the visa will offer a route to settlement in the UK.
Further details on the new Scale Up Visa will be published by the Home Office in the coming weeks and months.