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UK Scale Up Visa (A Guide For Irish Businesses In UK)

The Scale-Up visa allows foreign workers to enter the UK and work for fast-growing companies. After residing in the UK for up to 5 years while working for an employer, the employee with a Scale-Up visa may qualify to apply for settlement in the UK.

If you need more clarifications about Scale-Up visa UK, eligible jobs, eligibility requirements, or other services we offer, IAS can help. Call us today on

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    What To Know About The Scale-Up Visa As an Irish Company That Has Expanded In The UK?

    Due to the UK government’s changes to post-Brexit immigration rules, they designed the UK Scale-Up visa. This visa programme became open for application in August 2022.

    The UK Scale Up visa route is designed for Irish companies that have expanded in the UK to bring skilled workers from around the globe. Individuals who may qualify for the recognised UK Scale Up visa must meet the skill levels needed for the job in the company.

    The Scale Up visa holders are enabled to enter the UK as sponsored workers. They have to put in at least 6 months of work for the sponsoring employer. The worker and their family are free to relocate permanently to the UK without needing to work there after five years.

    There are both eligibility requirements for companies to recruit foreign workers, and for individuals to qualify for the Scale-Up visa. Under the Scale-Up visa rules, an employee is allowed to leave their sponsored role after 6 months and change to an unsponsored role.

    One of the most important requirements of the UK Scale-Up visa is that employees must first have a job offer from a UK employer along with corresponding Certificates of Sponsorship. Besides that, the company that offers such jobs must have prospects for rapid growth and must be in its scale-up phase.

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      Eligible Jobs for Scale-Up Visa

      The jobs UK employers offer to foreign workers must be eligible. Foreign workers will not be eligible for a Scale-Up visa if the jobs they are offered are not accepted.

      Therefore, foreign workers must check the list of eligible occupations, to know if they are qualified for the Scale-Up visa. To check the eligible job they intend to take, their employers will provide them with a 4-digit occupation code for the roles.

      For the Scale-Up visa scheme to be applicable, jobs offered by business sponsors must meet certain standards. The job role employees are offered must be real.

      Scale Up visa applicants may have their application rejected if there are any grounds for the Home Office to suspect that the employment they have been promised is not real, is fraudulent, or was made specifically to help them obtain a Scale-Up visa.

      Additionally, the Home Office needs to be assured that the employee won’t sign a contract, take on a position, or provide regular services for a third party who isn’t the sponsor listed on the sponsorship certificate. The Scale-Up visa jobs employees are taking must also satisfy the minimum skill level criterion for the Scale-Up visa, which is at least RQF level 6 or above.

      If the position an employee has been given is on the UK government’s website’s list of suitable jobs for the Scale-Up route, they will automatically meet the required skill level for the Scale-Up visa. Information like occupation codes, job kinds, and related job titles are also included in this list.

      Keep in mind that for the position for which an employee is being sponsored, a company must choose the right occupation code. If the Home Office determines that a company has chosen an improper or inaccurate occupation classification, they may reject the employee’s visa application.

      The Home Office will review the employee’s application for a visa based on several factors, such as whether:

      • The company needs the job that the employee is applying for.
      • The employee has the necessary training, experience, and credentials.
      • The company has a history of known immigration violations.

      Company Requirements & Eligibility To Hire Individuals On The Scale-Up Worker Visa


      Irish companies that want to hire individuals on the Scale-Up worker visa must obtain sponsor licences and meet Scale-Up visa requirements

      The UK Sponsor licence application procedure is conducted entirely online to streamline and expedite the whole process. Any registered business may independently apply for a sponsor licence.

      Requests for the UK Sponsor visa typically take the Home Office 6 to 8 weeks to process. To obtain a sponsor licence in a short time of 5 working days, companies can also request quick processing for a small additional cost.

      When the employer obtains a Sponsor licence, which is an electronic Certificate of Sponsorship (Cos), they will now issue it to prospective employees and sponsor them for 6 months. Every CoS has a distinct reference number, and applying for a visa within the T5, ICT, and skilled worker categories requires this electronic document.

      By providing the individual with a CoS, the sponsor confirms to the Home Office that the intended job conditions match the requirements for the appropriate visa route. Using this approach, companies can hire qualified workers from all around the world.

      There are two ways companies can meet the eligibility requirements to hire individuals, they include:

      • The Standard Pathway.
      • The Endorsed Body Pathway.

      The Standard Pathway

      This pathway requires that companies that are applying for a Scale-Up sponsor licence must:

      • Have a minimum of 20% annual growth for 3 years before applying. This could depend on turnover or staff count.
      • Have at least 10 workers when the 3-year term begins before applying.

      The Enhanced Pathway

      This pathway is designed to serve as an alternative to the Standard Pathway. The Enhanced Pathway is typically applied if HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) does not have up to 37 months of a company’s history to assess its sponsor licence application.

      Applicants for Scale-Up sponsor licences must be accepted by an endorsing authority to use this pathway. A qualifying Scale-Up sponsor must show that their company satisfies the following criteria to receive the enhanced pathway endorsement:

      • Be able to pay people fairly for jobs that require the skill set required for the Scale-up option.
      • Employ a minimum of 10 PAYE employees.
      • Fulfil the requirements of a Scale-Up business.
      • Ensure your company is registered with the HMRC for VAT.
      • Have not up to 4 years of HMRC history.
      • Be currently debt-free and trading in the UK.
      • Show that you will fulfil the requirements of the standard pathway in the next 4 years.

      Furthermore, companies are required to meet the following criteria:

      • You have grown in employment or turnover by more than 20% annually within the last two years.
      • You have raised at least £1 million in equity financing in a single round within the 12 months before submitting an endorsement application.
      • You own offices or operations throughout the world and bring in at least 10% of their revenue from exports.
      • You possess development, research or innovation expenditure of about 15% in one of the past 3 years or 10% of your annual operational expenses over three years.
      • You have received relevant government funding and taken part in a pertinent government programme. Or you have been involved in one of the recognised Scale-Up programmes, such as DCMS Creative Scale-Up, Innovate UK EDGE, etc.

      Employee Eligibility & Requirements

      To apply for a Scale-Up visa, the prospective employees must meet certain eligibility criteria. The employees must:

      • Be 18 years old or above on the date they apply for the visa.
      • Have a legitimate, highly skilled sponsored employment offer at the necessary salary level from an approved UK Scale-Up company. The position requires RQF 6 or higher level skills (graduate level).
      • Earn at least a guaranteed basic gross pay of £33,000 yearly until April 11, 2023, or earn £34,600 from April 12, 2023. The employees could also earn the going rate for the stated occupation code.
      • Show that they can read, write, speak, and listen in English at least at CEFR level B1, which is recognised as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The applicant must show that they meet the Immigration Rules’ Appendix English Language’s requirements for English language proficiency.
      • Receive a total of 70 points, which includes 50 points for sponsorship, a work offer at a skill and income level that is appropriate, and 10 points each for meeting the financial and English language standards.
      • Show funds of at least £1,270 or have their UK sponsor certify that they will maintain and accommodate their recruit until the end of the first month of their employment unless they are applying for permission to stay and have been in the UK lawfully for 1 year or longer on the application date.
      • Not have committed crimes misbehaved, or violated immigration laws, except for periods of overstaying. The Scale-Up visa application will not be granted if employees have committed crimes. Certain nationals will also need to register with the police.

      Skilled Worker Visa vs. Scale-Up Worker Visa

      Depending on employees’ long-term goals, the salary they have been promised, and whether the UK sponsoring company is seeing rapid expansion, employees may want to apply for the UK Scale-Up worker or the UK Skilled Worker visa.

      The major difference between the UK Scale-Up Worker visa and the Skilled Worker visa is that, following 6 months, holders of the Scale-Up visa are free to change jobs, and employers, or pursue self-employment without obtaining Home Office approval. Whereas, holders of Skilled Worker visas who wish to switch jobs or employers must first request to have their visas changed.

      The Skilled Worker visa and Scale-Up Worker visas also have the following differences:

      • The Skilled Worker and ScaleUp visas have different lists of qualifying jobs and going rates.
      • The application fee for a Scale-Up visa is £822, significantly less than the £719 to £1,500 (depending on individual situations) application charge for a Skilled Worker visa.
      • The Skilled Worker visa typically has up to a 5-year validity period. Whereas the Scale-Up visa has a 2-year validity period.
      • The Skilled Worker visa’s minimum annual salary of about £26,200 is less than that of the Scale-Up visa of about £34,600.
      • The Scale-Up visa issuing Certificates of Sponsorship to employees must have had growth on an average of about 20% yearly in either turnover or employment. The Scale-Up company must also have had a minimum of 10 employees at the beginning of the 3 years. Whereas the Skilled Worker visa sponsor companies are not expected to meet these requirements.

      In practical terms, employees will almost likely have to file for a Skilled Worker visa until additional Scale-Up companies are included in the list of eligible sponsors, even though the new UK Scale-Up visa gives greater freedom for potential migrant workers who wish to work in the UK.

      The decision on which kind of visa to apply for will primarily depend on whether potential applicants fulfil the more stringent criteria of the Scale-Up visa and if they want the freedom of switching occupations and employers after 6 months.

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        How To Hire Individuals On The Scale-Up Visa: Step By Step

        Irish employers in the UK are required to follow certain steps to hire individuals on the Scale-Up visa. First, employers are expected to obtain a Scale-Up sponsor licence.

        If they don’t already have a licence, they must apply for it online, pay its corresponding application fees (which could be up to £1,476) and provide all needed documents. But if the employer already has a UK sponsor licence, they may request to add the Scale-Up route to it.

        For sponsor licence purposes, the Scale-Up route is categorised as a “Temporary Worker” route. This implies that to obtain a sponsor licence or to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to employees via this route, the employer will have to pay the standard Temporary Worker fee. However, employers will be required to pay an extra fee if they are applying under the endorsing body pathway.

        It typically takes about 8 weeks for the UKVI to process a company’s sponsor licence application. However, employers may pay an extra £500 to get a decision on their application within 10 working days.

        After obtaining the sponsor licence, the approved scale up business may now issue Certificates of Sponsorship to eligible foreign workers to come and work for them in the UK. Thereafter, the employees will apply for a Scale-Up visa at the UK embassy in their home country within 3 months of receiving the CoS from a qualifying scale up business.

        How IAS Can Help Your Business

        Irish employers whose businesses are expanding in the UK can leverage the great opportunity offered by the Scale-Up visa programme. This visa is a great option for qualified foreign workers to live and work in the UK and help strengthen growing companies in the UK.

        If you want to recruit qualified foreign workers for your UK company via the Scale-Up visa or any other immigration route, IAS can help. We already know our way around UK immigration law and the best ways to help you recruit workers without breaking the law.

        For more information on how to apply for a Scale-Up visa UK, guidance on verifying the eligibility of your business to sponsor workers, and other services we offer, IAS can help. Call us today on +353 061 518 025 or message us online.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  Yes, you can speed up a UK visa application as you can pay to get a faster decision on your application within 5 working days.

                  Some of the benefits of a UK Scale-Up visa include:

                  • It is flexible. The migrant worker is only allowed to work for the sponsor for up to 6 months, where the migrant worker will be free to choose whether to remain with the employer or take up another job.
                  • Immigration Skills Charge is not required, thereby saving employers up to £1,000 yearly.
                  • It has a lower visa application fee when compared to Skilled Worker visas.