Strategic comparison between Skilled Worker Visa and Scale-up visa


The new Scale-Up visa route that went into effect on August 22, 2022 leads to settlement, much like the Skilled Worker visa. Both immigration routes need sponsorship from employers who possess the required UK sponsor licence.

Although the Scale-up method is centred on sponsorship, this new option does provide migrants with greater freedom. To assist companies and employees understand which method could be more suited depending on their circumstances, we compare the Scale-up visa route with the Skilled Worker visa route in depth in this article.

What is a Skilled Worker visa?

Those with an offer of qualified skilled employment in the UK from a Home Office-approved sponsor are eligible for the UK Skilled Worker Visa. An employer that has been authorised by the Home Office should sponsor foreign candidates for a specific position that fulfils certain skill and pay standards in order for them to get a UK Skilled Worker Visa.

What is a Scale-up visa?

The Scale-up visa route enables immigrants with employment offers at Scale-ups to gain entrance clearance/permission to stay and work in the UK if they have the necessary Scale-up Sponsor Licence. It provides both a “supported application” path and an “unsponsored application,” in contrast to the Skilled Worker method. Similar to the skilled worker path, candidates must demonstrate in their first application that they are sponsored to work a job that satisfies the skill and pay standards listed below.

Comparison between a Skilled Worker visa and a Scale-up visa


Skilled Worker visa: Throughout the duration of their authorization as skilled workers, the visa holders must be sponsored in an appropriate position. Migrants still need to be sponsored by their employers and continue to be needed in their current position for the foreseeable future in order to settle.

Scale-up visa: Scale-up visa applicants must initially make a sponsored application. They will need to show that they have qualifying job offers from sponsors who hold a Scale-up Sponsor Licence. They will need to be sponsored for at least six months. If a migrant wishes to change employer, sponsor, or occupation code during this period, they will need a new CoS and they will have to make a new application for entry clearance/permission to stay as a sponsored Scale-up Worker.

Following their two-year initial grant of permission, the Scale-up Worker Visa applicant can make an unsponsored application meaning that they are not required to be sponsored for any particular role, though other eligibility criteria apply.

Certificate of Sponsorship

An applicant must demonstrate that they have been given a valid Certificate of Sponsorship in order to be granted authorization to work as a Skilled Worker. This prerequisite also applies to first Scale-up candidates. The number of persons who can be sponsored as Scale-up migrants or Skilled Workers is unlimited.

Skilled Worker visa: For skilled workers, there are two different CoS categories: Defined and Undefined. In order to apply for authorisation to stay in the UK from within the UK, skilled workers must be issued Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship. A Skilled Worker requesting entry clearance from outside the UK must submit a Defined CoS.

Scale-up route: Scale-up route applicants must be given Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship, even if they are requesting minimum entry. 

Skill Level requirement

Yes, there is a minimum skill requirement for both approaches. Sponsorship is not available for all roles. Sponsors must take into account the employment responsibilities that immigrants are expected to perform and whether those positions are included in the Appendix of Skilled Occupations as qualifying roles for the appropriate routes.

Scale-up applications must be sponsored in a skilled role of at least RFQ level 6, whereas applicants via the Skilled Worker route must be sponsored in a skilled role of at least RFQ level 3. In both cases, candidates must persuade the Home Office that they are being sponsored to fill a real position clearance. 

Salary Requirements

Skilled Workers

Most of the time, skilled workers must demonstrate a minimum wage of at least £25,600 annually, £10.10 per hour, or the market rate for the position, whichever is greater. However, there are certain exceptions.

To choose the right going job for the route, applicants must take their occupation code into account.

Scale-up Workers 

Sponsored application: Applicants must demonstrate that they will earn at least £10.58 per hour and at least £33,000 per year, or the going rate for the position. Compared to the Skilled Worker option, this wage threshold is greater. The right-going role for the route will depend on the applicants’ occupation codes, much like with the Skilled Worker route.

Unsponsored application: Applicants must demonstrate that they have earned monthly PAYE earnings in the UK equal to £33,000 annually for at least 50% of their authorization as a Scale-up Worker when seeking permission to stay as a Scale-up migrant after previously receiving such permission. Even if self-employment is allowed, migrants cannot rely on their earnings from it to achieve these criteria.


Skilled Workers: Up to a maximum of five years following the date of their certificate of sponsorship (CoS), skilled workers will be given entry clearance and permission to stay for a period of 14 days. After five years in this category continuously, migrants may be eligible for settlement (or in a combination of eligible categories).

Scale-up Worker: Those who apply will be given entry clearance and two years of authorization to remain. They can then submit an application for a three-year extension. After five years in this category continuously, migrants may be eligible for settlement (or in a combination of eligible categories).

English Language Requirement

The English language requirement to the CEFR Level B1 in all four components—speaking, listening, reading, and writing—must be demonstrated by both skilled workers and scale-up workers.

Which route—the skilled worker route or the scale-up worker route—is better?

The Scale-up visa route is more accommodating because it does not require sponsorship for employment outside of the sponsored position beyond the first six months of entry clearance or authorization to remain in this category. In contrast, fewer employers are probably scale-ups, which is a prerequisite for acquiring a scale-up sponsor licence. This might imply that there aren’t as many sponsorship opportunities in this sector.

Contact A Y & J Solicitors

At A Y & J Solicitors, our team of experts is ready to assist you with your immigration application so that you can start your job on time and ensure that your professional development will support your immigration goals. We do this so that you can meet the requirements necessary to qualify for the visa you are seeking.

We are knowledgeable, experienced, and goal-oriented when it comes to immigration law. Please get in touch with us if you require assistance with your sponsorship or if you have any other questions on the regulations concerning immigration to the UK.