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How International Tech Talents Can Migrate to the UK with Scale Up Visa

Feature Article How International Tech Talents Can Migrate to the UK with Scale Up Visa
FEB 3, 2022 LISTEN

If you are a tech talent wishing to move to the UK, the new Scale-Up visa might just be your best bet.

Set to launch in Springs in 2022, the Scale-Up visa is one of the UK’s immigration pathways for international talents and a part of the bigger plan to make the country a global innovation hub by 2035.

The visa will be highly beneficial to both UK firms and international employees in the tech industry. Through the pathway, eligible firms will be able to source talent from around the world, while skilled workers will have the opportunity to make their immigration dream come true.

Who Can Apply as Skilled Worker?

The scale-up visa will be open to highly skilled workers who have a job offer from an eligible UK firm that pays a minimum salary of £33,000. You must also demonstrate the English language proficiency requirements for the visa. If you are deemed successful by the immigration officials, you will be granted the visa, which comes with a lot of benefits.

As a Scale-Up visa holder, you will be able to switch employers while in the UK and also extend your visa to a maximum of 5 years. After that, you will be eligible to apply for UK permanent residency, popularly known as Indefinite Leave to Remain.

International tech talents are set to be the biggest beneficiaries of this visa because the UK is facing a shortage of skilled individuals in the tech and science sectors. According to a 2021 report by Tech Nation, a UK-based company that reports events and vacancies in the tech industry, demand for tech jobs was 42% higher in 2021 than in 2019.

Scaleup Institutes also reports that 21% of scale-ups surveyed in 2021 said that at least a quarter of their staff came from outside the UK.

The aftermath of Brexit coupled with the Covid-19 downturn has left the United Kingdom in dire need of skilled workers, and immigration pathways like this visa will be a useful tool in bolstering the economy.

Businesses Eligible for Scale-Up Visa

"Scale-up" businesses will be able to employ international skilled workers quickly through this visa route.

To be eligible as a scale-up business, the firm must have at least 10 employees and demonstrate the growth of over 20% for either annual average revenue or employment over a 3-year period.

Though the full framework for the visa application hasn’t been released, it is expected that the route should offer a fast-track process and be less rigorous – as it may not require licence sponsoring.

In its May 2021 policy paper, New Plan for immigration, the Home Office had stated that in Spring 2022, it will also introduce a new, unsponsored points-based immigration pathway to attract the brightest and best individuals to the UK, with a particular emphasis on the very high skilled and academically elite. It stated that the route will create a 'scale up' stream that will allow applicants with an employment offer at the required skills level from eligible UK scale-up firms to qualify for a fast-track visa that doesn't require sponsorship.

Positioning Yourself for the Visa

As Springs approaches, international tech talents can start positioning themselves for this high-valued immigration pathway. Your preparations should include searching for vacancies in the UK tech industry that match your skills and gathering the necessary documents. This includes travel documents like passports, academic and training documents, and other related items. You should also get familiar with the UK travel requirements from your country of residency, as criteria differ from one country to another.

While there is no information yet for family members, you can start gathering travel documents for your immediate relatives as well. This is because related routes, such as Skilled Worker visa, allow children and partners to accompany or join eligible candidates in the UK.

Olusegun Akinfenwa writes for Immigration Advice Service, a law firm based in the UK and offering immigration service globally.

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