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Relocating to Scotland: Immigration considerations

Scotland has a long held reputation of being a friendly and welcoming place to live. Those hoping to make the move can be sure of a warm welcome but making the move a reality will involve a degree of planning. If you are planning on moving to Scotland, visa requirements should be top of the list of things to consider.

Scottish immigration rules are made by the UK government and therefore the same visa rules apply in Scotland to the rest of the UK. There are various different visa routes available and finding the right visa will depend on a number of different factors. The first thing to consider is your reason for moving and what you hope to do when you arrive. This will help narrow down the visa options and identify which best meets your needs. This helpful tool on the UK Visas and Immigration website can help you narrow down the options. Once you have selected the type of visa, you will need to familiarise yourself with the requirements for that visa to check your eligibility.

For those wishing to buy a holiday home and spend short periods of time in the UK, entering the UK as a visitor may be an option. Certain nationals, known as non-visa nationals can seek entry to the UK as a visitor upon arrival for periods of up to six months. By contrast, those individuals classed as visa nationals will need to apply for a visit visa before travelling to the UK. The visitor route does however have its restrictions. It is not designed to be used to effectively live in the UK through successive and frequent visits, nor does it usually afford the individual the right to work in the UK.

The most popular work visa is the skilled worker visa which requires sponsorship by a UK employer. The employer has to hold a sponsor licence with the UK immigration authorities and the role on offer has to meet certain minimum skill and salary thresholds. It is a route which allows the whole family to relocate to the UK as it permits the main visa applicant to be joined by their dependants. From a more long-term perspective, the skilled worker visa can lead to permanent residence (known as indefinite leave to remain) following a period of five years continuous residence in the UK.

There are a myriad of other options available. When considering which option is best, it is always worth considering what work conditions are placed on the visa, as some offer more flexibility than others. Comparing the length of time it takes to become eligible for settlement in the UK is another thing to think about. Processing times and visa costs are other key considerations. At present, overseas family based applications are taking up to 24 weeks to be decided and therefore there may other visa routes which offer speedier processing times.

As a full-service law firm we can assist with all aspects of your move, including property services, succession planning and tax advice. Should you require assistance with planning your move to the UK, please get in touch with our team of specialist immigration lawyers.

This article appears in our latest edition of The Brief, Harper Macleod's magazine for individuals and families. 

If you are planning on moving to Scotland, visa requirements should be top of the list of things to consider.