Here you’ll find information to help you understand the UK visa routes available to you as employers and investors.


If your organisation wants to recruit and retain talented international employees, the first thing you need in place is a Home Office sponsor licence.

Your organisation will need to have a few things in place. For example, you need to be set up and based in the UK and have certain HR and recruitment systems in place.

The two main sponsor licences are:

  • A ‘worker licence’ which enables you to recruit and retain long-term staff, such as skilled workers.
  • A ‘temporary worker sponsor licence’ which enables you to recruit temporary staff, such as expansion workers to help you expand your business in the UK.

The sponsor license application fee is £536 for small organisations or charities and £1467 for medium or larger organisations.

The good news is that new licences issued on or after 6 April 2024 will automatically be valid for ten years.

With a sponsor license, you can access a wide international talent pool, including graduates, to meet your organisation’s needs.

Find more information about becoming a licensed employer.


Scotland is home to a diverse and flourishing economy, making it an ideal location for you to expand your business. Below,  you will find some visa categories that might help you to achieve your business expansion goals.

Global Business Mobility visa

A valid sponsorship licence allows overseas businesses to sponsor or transfer employees to the UK for short-term work under the Global Business Mobility route.

There are five types of visas under the Global Business Mobility route that could help your organisation:

  • UK Expansion Worker
  • Senior or Specialist Worker
  • Secondment Worker
  • Service Supplier
  • Graduate Trainee

The UK Expansion Worker visa is an excellent choice if you are looking to send senior managers or specialists to Scotland to expand your organisation. A senior staff member can usually obtain a visa to work for up to one year and extend their visa for a further year if they have worked for the sponsor outside the UK continuously for at least 12 months.

Businesses that have not been trading in the UK but already have a footprint here (such as business premises or a subsidiary company) can use this visa route. Up to five senior staff members can be sponsored at the same time to work in the UK and establish a trading presence here.

To be eligible for an Expansion Worker visa, the job role needs to be on the UK government list of occupation codes and meet the associated salary requirements.

Scale-up Worker visa

If you want to hire specialists such as scientists, engineers, programmers, technicians, architects and researchers, the Scale-up Worker visa route might be for you.

You will need to have a valid sponsor licence for the Scale-up route or apply to have it added to your existing licence.

You can then sponsor a Scale-up Worker for six months. They can continue to work for you without sponsorship after this period.

Eligible organisations need to have an annual growth of at least 20% for the three-year period before their application based either on employment (for example staff count) or turnover; and a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period. 

This flexible route allows workers to get visas for up to two years, with an option to extend, switch or apply for settlement in the UK after five years of residence.


With Scotland being the most attractive UK location for investors outside of London, we want you to have the information you need to unlock Scotland’s investment opportunities and turn your innovation dreams into reality.  

Innovator Founder visa

Scotland is a prime location for entrepreneurship across varied and dynamic sectors in demand. Under the Innovator Founder visa route, entrepreneurs can come to Scotland to set up and run new, innovative, viable and scalable businesses.

You will need to apply for an endorsement from a Home Office-approved endorsing body, which costs £1000 (excluding VAT where applicable). You may also be invited by the endorsing body to pitch your unique and exciting business ideas.

The endorsing body will assess the business idea that you pitched. They will check that your business has enough funds and that your ideas are cutting-edge and will generate growth and jobs.

Visas under this route usually last up to three years, with an option to extend, switch to another visa or apply for settlement in the UK. Family members may also be able to join workers under this route.

Other routes for recruiting international workers

These are just some of the visa categories available. There are many other options which can help meet the needs of your organisation.

For example, you can recruit talented international staff already living in Scotland if:

  • they have a visa that allows them to work, including a graduate visa, youth mobility scheme visa, partner or spouse visa, or
  • they are an EU citizen with leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Check the full list of visas available to work in the UK on

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