A new visa system for Scotland - | Hudson McKenzie

A new visa system for Scotland

As the UK paves the way for the implementation of a points-based immigration system on 1st January 2021, there has been much campaigning from the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, for Scotland to have its own varied visa system.

Considering that nations such as Australia and Canada have their own regional visa systems, the opportunity for Scotland to have its own visa could eventually be underway once the new UK immigration route is fully implemented. Australia has schemes such as the Regional Sponsored Migrant Scheme visa whilst Canada has the Quebec skilled workers scheme and others. What this reflects is that Scotland’s demands for a separate and distinct visa system from the rest of the UK is not unreasonable nor out of the ordinary, making it a somewhat likely prospect.

Although this proposal for Scotland has been entirely rejected by the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, others are eager to push this proposal forward and have an independent immigration route for overseas migrants to enter Scotland.

Boris Johnson and MPs have backed the latest immigration bill to be enacted at the end of the Brexit transition period (1st January 2021) on the basis of adopting an “Australian style” points-based system and having full control over its borders. However, if Australia has its own regional immigration systems, shouldn’t the UK then integrate regional visa systems to fully reap the benefits of an Australian style immigration system?

The potential outlook

Should Scotland adopt its own immigration system, it could look like the skilled regional provisional visa scheme in Australia. This scheme allows migrants overseas to apply for permanent residency if they can demonstrate they have lived and worked in regional Australia. However, this is only a presumption and it may look comparatively different should it go ahead.


Ultimately, the vote for a revitalised immigration route for Scotland has been vouched for by its citizens. According to a poll conducted by cross-party and anti-Brexit group, EU+ME, 63.37% of Scots backed the proposal and agreed that a new system for Scotland would give Scotland the power to make different decisions from the rest of the UK.

As a result of the Scottish campaign for independency, the argument for its own visa and immigration system has been exemplified over the years. It has also been intensified because of the scheduled effect of the new immigration system in the UK, whereby its independent expert advisory group has warned that immigration to Scotland could be significantly lessened. Because of the brand-new Tier 2 salary thresholds detailed in the new system, this has the potential to create major staff shortages across multiple sectors.

Depending on the impacts on Scotland and the rest of the UK because of the enforcement of the UK’s new immigration system, only time will tell whether the campaign for a regional visa system for Scotland will be unleashed.

Should you require legal assistance with your visa application, sponsor licence or queries about the above-mentioned information, please get in touch with a legal professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at londoninfo@hudsonmckenzie.com or by telephone +44(0)20 3318 5794.