Climbing High: Scale Up Sponsor Licence Guide

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If you’re an employer looking to bring over skilled overseas workers, then applying for a Scale Up Sponsor Licence is an important step. Confused about what this unique sponsorship licence can offer your business?

In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know, including the Scale Up Sponsor Licence fees and requirements, and the application process.

What is the Scale Up Sponsor Licence?

The Scale Up Sponsor Licence is a unique sponsorship licence that is aimed at UK businesses experiencing a long-term period of high growth. This licence enables them to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to eligible overseas workers, with the sponsorship limited to a six month period. After this point, you will no longer be sponsoring the worker, even if you continue to employ them.

Who can apply for the Scale Up Sponsor Licence UK?

To be eligible for the Scale Up Sponsor Licence, your business must be solvent. The employment should also be genuine, and meet both the skill and salary requirements for the licence. This means it must be at graduate level or above, and pay at least £34,600 or the going rate for the position (whichever is higher). It should also meet the National Minimum Wage and Working Time Regulations, as well as rules on third-party working.

Finally, you should show you comply with the definition of a “qualifying Scale Up sponsor.” You’ll have two different pathways to meet this requirement.

The standard pathway

To meet the requirements for this pathway, you’ll need to meet two key criteria:

  • At least 20% annualised growth for the 3-year period up until your application, determined either by your employment (staff count) or turnover
  • A minimum of ten employees at the beginning of this 3-year period

The government will securely evaluate your PAYE and/or VAT return information submitted to HMRC, so they can determine whether you meet the criteria.

The endorsing body pathway

If you don’t meet the standard pathway criteria, e.g., because your HMRC records don’t cover a sufficient amount of time, then you can apply via the endorsing body pathway. You’ll need to obtain endorsement from a government-approved endorsing body, which you should submit with your application no later than three months after the endorsement date.

To qualify for these endorsements, you need to:

  • Be VAT-registered
  • Be solvent and trading within the UK
  • Have an HMRC footprint of under 4 years
  • Have at least 10 employees paying income tax and national insurance through a PAYE scheme that you operate
  • Have a corporate bank account registered in the UK
  • Demonstrate a potential growth rate that is consistent with the Scale Up route requirements, and be reasonably expected to meet the qualifying Scale Up sponsor definition through the standard pathway within 4 years time
  • Have sufficient financial resources to provide appropriate salaries to staff working in roles that meet the skill level of the Scale Up route

You’ll also need to meet at least 3 out of 5 of the following criteria:

  1. Growth – Show 20% growth in turnover or employment per year over a 2 year period
  2. Participation in a relevant Government programme or receipt of relevant Government funding – Have participated in a recognised scale-up programme, received an Innovate UK loan or grant, or participated in the Small Business Research Initiative
  3. Finance – Have raised at least £1 million in equity finance in a single round within the 12 months immediately prior to the date of application to the endorsing body
  4. International – Have global offices or operations and generate a minimum threshold of at least 10% of turnover from exports
  5. Research and development expenditure – Spend 10% of your overall operating costs each year for 3 years, or 15% in one of the past 3 years, on research and development

How to apply for the Scale Up Sponsor Licence

You can apply for the Scale Up Sponsor Licence online. You’ll need to pay the standard Temporary Worker licence fee, which is £536. If you use the “endorsing body pathway”, you’ll need to pay an additional fee to the endorsing body you choose.

Typically, you won’t need to send any supporting documents. However, during the online application process, you should provide UKVI with your business’:

  • Companies House reference number or Unique Taxpayer Reference number
  • VAT registration number
  • PAYE reference numbers for paying your employees

In some cases, you may be required to provide evidence of registration or inspection by a regulating body, such as the CQC.

Professional legal advice for sponsor licences in the UK

If you’re looking to apply for a sponsor licence in the UK, then it’s important to seek legal support. It’s important to note that this blog post is for informational purposes only. Mistakes or omissions could lead to your licence being refused, which could place you into the sponsor licence cooling-off period.

From sponsor licence audits to skilled worker licences, we’re here to support you through every step. At Osbourne Pinner Solicitors, we offer a free 30-minute consultation, with no obligations to continue further. To get started, fill out our easy application form below. Alternatively, call us on 0203 983 5080 or email at [email protected].

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