Sponsor a Scale-up worker? Key considerations for employers

On August 22, 2022, the UK government launched the new Scale-up Visa, a points-based immigration pathway that has been designed to help the UK’s fastest growing businesses access the talent they need. need to move to the next level.

As the UK continues to battle critical skills gaps within the national workforce, many high-growth companies in key sectors such as science and technology are increasingly turning outward from the resident labor market in order to access the highly skilled workers they need to sustain their growth. .

The Home Office has promoted the new Scale-up pathway as a more flexible visa option to allow UK businesses to compete more effectively for internationally sought-after talent. However, companies interested in using the new Scale-up pathway to attract overseas talent should be aware of several important differences between this pathway and other sponsored work visas such as the Skilled Worker pathway.

Below, we outline four key questions employers should ask themselves before applying to sponsor migrant workers on the path to scale.

Does your business qualify as scale-up?

In addition to meeting the general eligibility and suitability requirements to qualify for a sponsor license, as outlined in the Sponsor Guidelines, companies applying to sponsor Scale-up workers must meet specific additional requirements. to the route to meet the Home Office’s definition of a qualification. Scale-up employer.

To qualify as a scale-up that can bring workers to the UK, you must be able to show the Home Office that your business has experienced strong growth in the three-year period immediately preceding the worker sponsorship application . During this 3-year period, your company must have:

  • Growth of 20% on average each year in employment or total sales (turnover)
  • Had at least 10 employees at the start of the 3-year period.

To assess whether your business meets this definition, the Home Office will securely access and verify your Pay As You Earn (PAYE) information and/or VAT returns that you have submitted to HMRC.

If you cannot provide evidence that your company meets the above criteria to qualify as a scale-up, your company should consider applying to sponsor workers through another pathway, such as the worker pathway. qualified.

What impact could the 6-month rule have on your business?

A key benefit that accompanies this path is that Scale-up workers only need employer sponsorship for the first 6 months of their authorization.

During this initial 6 month period of sponsored work, Scale-up workers cannot change employers unless they apply to update their visa. However, after 6 months they are free to change jobs or become self-employed without having to notify the Home Office.

While this is intended to provide greater flexibility to the visa holder and simultaneously help employers attract highly skilled workers with a more competitive visa offer, the 6 month rule for employers has some drawbacks.

One of the main concerns for many employers will be how this rule could impact staff retention. Employers may be reluctant to invest time and money in recruiting a highly skilled worker to help grow their business only to have that employee leave for a new job after 6 months.

However, once you have obtained a Scale-up sponsor license, it is valid for 4 years and you will be able to sponsor other Scale-up workers during this time. It is therefore important to note that you must meet your sponsorship obligations throughout the term of your license, even if you are no longer actively sponsoring workers. This could be seen as an inconvenience for an employer who has only recruited one or two Scale-up workers, but is still required to maintain a license for 4 years despite only sponsoring workers for 6 month.

Will your company need to recruit long-term foreign workers?

The Scale-up route is classified as a “temporary worker” route for sponsor licensing purposes. This means that the Home Office does not intend to use this route as a long-term solution to sponsoring migrant workers and that it has been designed specifically to help employers access a larger pool. large pool of talent at a critical stage in the growth of their business.

For this reason, unlike most other sponsored work routes, you cannot renew your Scale-up license beyond 4 years. If you wish to continue to have the ability to sponsor foreign workers after this period, you must apply for a license on an alternate route (eg, skilled worker), if you have not already done so.

Scale-up vs Skilled Worker: Which Option is Best for Your Business?

If your business is going through a period of strong growth and you are able to prove it to the Home Office, the Scale-up route may seem like the most natural choice when it comes to recruiting workers from overseas. However, for some employers, the long-term benefits offered by alternative routes such as the skilled worker route may outweigh the immediate benefits of the scale-up route.

Employers using the Scale-up pathway can benefit from significant cost savings as it is classified as a “temporary worker” pathway and is therefore subject to lower sponsorship fees. The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) also does not apply to the Scale-up route, saving businesses potentially thousands of pounds compared to the Skilled Worker option. However, you will need to pay your Scale-up workers a higher salary (at least £33,000 per annum or the ‘governing rate’) compared to skilled workers where a lower salary threshold of £25,600 applies.

Choosing to sponsor your employees on a skilled worker visa also means that they are more likely to stay with your company longer term, as skilled workers are “bonded” to their sponsored employment for the duration of their visa. For example, a Skilled Worker with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for five years must apply for a new visa if they wish to change jobs or employers within that five-year period.

When determining the best route for your business, a determining factor is whether you are already an approved sponsor or not.

If you already hold a valid license to sponsor workers, you can apply to add the Scale-up pathway to your existing license. However, if your business is already approved under the skilled worker pathway, you may wish to save yourself the headache and simply choose to sponsor the worker through this pathway instead.

If your business is not yet an approved sponsor and you just want to recruit a small number of highly skilled migrant workers to take your business to the next level, applying for a Scale-up Sponsor License might be the most cost-effective option. .

However, if you think your company will want to sponsor migrant workers beyond the age of four, applying for a Skilled Worker Sponsorship License will prepare your company to recruit foreign workers in a wider range of occupations compared to the Scale-up pathway which is suited to a more limited selection of highly skilled roles. Although a Skilled Worker Sponsorship license is more expensive to obtain and maintain, it could provide your company with greater flexibility for your future recruiting campaigns.

About Sandy Fletcher

Check Also

The Scottish home of King Charles III and Camilla is a peaceful, private retreat to mourn – inside

September 21, 2022 – 07:04 BST Chloe Best King Charles III and Queen Consort, Camilla, …