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Scale-up Visas

Scale-up Visas

What is the scale-up visa?

The Scale-up Worker visa allows eligible highly skilled employees to come to the UK to work in an eligible role for a fast growing UK business (a “scale-up” business).

Unlike other sponsored visas, the Scale-up visa allows businesses to employ high-skilled individuals who will receive 2 years’ leave to remain in the UK without requiring further sponsorship or permission beyond the first 6 months.

What is a Scale-up business?

To be an eligible business sponsor under this route a business must be approved by the Home Office. They must also:

  • be growing at 20% in turnover and/or employee growth rate every year, for the last three years.
  • Have 10 or more employees at the beginning of the three year period.
  • Must hold an eligible sponsor licence.

UKVI will define a “recognised UK scale up”.

Do I need to have a sponsor?

Yes. You need to be sponsored by a recognised UK Scale-up business to be eligible for a Scale-up visa.

What do I need to do to be granted the scale-up visa?

To be eligible for a Scale-up visa you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a confirmed job offer to work for an approved scale-up business for at least 6 months
  • Have a “certificate of sponsorship” from your employer with information about the role you have been offered in the UK
  • Have a job offer to do a job that is on the list of eligible occupations
  • Be paid a minimum salary in your new job, the higher of £36,300 per annum, or the going rate for your role)

You must also be able to speak, read, write and understand English and you will need to prove your ability to do this when you apply.

Further information on eligible jobs and minimum salaries can be found here.

How much does it cost?

When applying for a Scale-up visa you will need to be able to:

  • Pay the visa application fee
  • Pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge
  • Show that you are able to support yourself financial in the UK by having at least £1,270 available in your bank account (unless your sponsor has agreed to support you or you have been in the UK for the previous 12 months before your application is made).
How long is a Scale-up visa granted for?

A Scale up visa is initially granted for 2 years. After this period you will need to apply to extend your visa if you want to remain in the UK.

When you apply to extend your Scale-up visa this it will be extended for a further 3 year period (if eligible). This can be done as many times as you like as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

Does time spent in the UK on a Scale-up visa count towards settlement/ILR in the UK?

Yes. After 5 years in the UK you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain/settlement in the UK. If your application is successful you will have the right to live, work and study in the UK for as long as you like.

What can I do under a Scale-up visa?

With a Scale-up visa you can:

  • Work in your sponsored job for at least 6 months
  • Leave your sponsored job after 6 months and start working in another job without telling the Home Office
  • Study
  • Bring your partner and children with you as your dependants (if they are eligible)
  • Take on additional work, including being self-employed
  • Do voluntary work
  • Travel abroad
Will I be employed or self-employed when I have the Scale-up visa?

Under the Scale Up visa route you must be employed by your sponsor for an initial six month period. After this initial six months you are able to change employer or even be self-employed.

Is there anything I am not allowed to do under a Scale-up visa?

You are not able to:

  • Apply for most benefits (public funds) or the State Pension;
  • Work as a professional sportsperson

Further restrictions and information on what you can and can’t do under a Scale-up visa will be given to you if your application is successful.

Can my family join me under this route?

Yes. If eligible your partner and children will be able to join you in the UK as your dependant.


Given the fast pace of change, we would stress that this information is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

As a hub, we have included references to articles and explainers from third parties. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.