New Scale-up visa and other UK immigration routes for the tech sector – Smith Stone Walters

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The government’s Digital Strategy outlines how the new Scale-up visa and other UK immigration routes can help fast-growing businesses in the tech sector access the talent they need.



4 August 2022
Later this month, the Home Office is set to launch a brand new immigration route to make it quicker and easier for fast-growing businesses to bring highly skilled individuals to the UK. On 22 August 2022, applications will open for the new Scale-up visa, the latest in a series of work visas newly launched this year to help British businesses access global talent.
In July, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published its UK Digital Strategy, which sets out how the government plans to make the UK ‘the best place in the world to start and grow a technology business’. The Strategy acknowledges the benefits that talent from overseas can bring to businesses in the tech sector, and outlines how the government is enabling the ‘best and brightest’ international tech talent to work in the UK through the Home Office suite of work visas, including the new Scale-up visa.
In this article, we look at what we know so far about the new Scale-up route and outline a range of alternative immigration routes commonly used in the tech sector.
Official guidance on the Scale-up route has not yet been released by the Home Office. However, the route was outlined in a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules published in March this year.
In short, the Scale-up route has been designed to allow talented individuals to come to the UK if they hold a high skilled job offer from a qualifying scale-up business at the required salary level of £33,000 per year or more. The growth threshold to qualify as a scale-up which can bring people into the UK is 20% annual growth in headcount or revenue over a 3-year period.
The Scale-up visa offers a more flexible work visa and, unlike other sponsored routes, the Scale-up route will only require individuals to be sponsored for the initial six months on the route. This will enable UK businesses to compete for the internationally sought-after and highly skilled workers they need, and help maintain the UK’s status as a leading international hub for emerging technologies.
The new Scale-up visa recognises the benefits high-growth businesses offer to the UK, and the need to ensure they are fully supported in maintaining this growth at a key time. Although the Scale-up route is not limited to tech companies only, it is anticipated that businesses in this field will be some of the most frequent users given the abundance of fast-growing businesses in the sector.
Once launched, the Scale-up route will provide yet another option for employers and professionals in the tech sector, alongside several existing visa categories under the points-based immigration system:
Smith Stone Walters will provide a further update on the Scale-up route once the Home Office guidance has been published. In the meantime, if you have any questions around recruiting overseas talent for your tech business, our team of immigration experts are on hand to help. To discuss your requirements with a qualified immigration advisor, please contact us today.
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