UK Scale-up Worker Visa

A Scale-up Worker visa allows you to come to the UK to do an eligible job for a fast-growing UK business (sometimes called a ‘scale-up business’).

Your UK employer must meet specific eligibility criteria to sponsor scale-up workers.

If you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

If you or your family member started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.

The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021 for most people. You can still apply if either:

  • you have a later deadline - for example, you’re joining a family member in the UK who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020

  • you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by 30 June 2021 - for example, you had an illness or were the victim of domestic abuse

Check if you can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Otherwise you need a visa to work in the UK.

Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Eligibility

To qualify for a Scale-up Worker visa, you must:

  • 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’ve been offered in the UK
  • have a job offer to do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • be paid a minimum salary in your new job

Check if your job is eligible.

Knowledge of English

You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English. You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of English when you apply.

If you’re not eligible for a Scale-up Worker visa

You may be eligible for another type of visa to work in the UK.

How long you can stay

You can stay in the UK with a Scale-up Worker visa for 2 years. You’ll need to apply to extend your visa when it expires.

If you want to stay longer in the UK

You can extend your visa as many times as you like by 3 years, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.

After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

How to apply

You must apply online.

How you apply depends on whether you’re:

If you want to change your employer during the first 6 months of working in your sponsored job, you must apply to update your visa.

You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.

When to apply

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you’re due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents.

You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.

Getting a decision

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within:

  • 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK
  • 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK

You may be able to pay to get a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.

How much it costs

You, your partner or children will each need to:

  • pay the £715 application fee
  • pay the healthcare surcharge for each year of your stay
  • prove you have enough personal savings

Check how much money you’ll need.

What you can and cannot do

With a Scale-up Worker visa you can:

  • work in your sponsored job for at least 6 months
  • leave your sponsored job after 6 months
  • study
  • bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible
  • take on additional work, including becoming self-employed
  • do voluntary work
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years and meet the other eligibility requirements

You cannot:

  • apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
  • work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach

If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Scale-up Worker visa.

During the first 6 months of your stay

You cannot change employer unless you apply to update your visa.

You do not need to update your visa if you start a different, eligible job with the same employer.

After 6 months

You can:

  • continue working in your job
  • change or stop doing your job without telling the Home Office
  • be self-employed

You do not need to update your visa.

You can extend your Scale-up Worker visa without a new sponsor when your current visa expires. You must meet the earnings requirements.

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