Scottish visa plan aims to avoid Brexit skills shortages
A visa scheme will keep the door open to immigrants (pic: Terry Murden)
Nicola Sturgeon will today unveil plans for a Scottish visa in a bid to overcome any skill shortages cause Britain’s departure from the EU.
The move will also be part of a campaign to switch control of immigration from Westminster to Holyrood.
The visa scheme will be designed specifically to combat depopulation and reduce skills gaps as freedom of movement is tightened up following Brexit.
Ms Sturgeon is expected to say that the scheme will provide further reassurance to businesses worried that they will struggle to retain and attract overseas labour. Canada and Australia operate similar schemes.
It comes as projections show that, unlike the rest of the UK, Scotland’s population growth will rely almost entirely on immigration.
It is thought the Scottish visa would be an extra option in the UK system, and not a separate bureaucratic process and would “remove a significant burden from the small and medium enterprises. The Scottish Government would want to work in partnership with the UK Government to deliver it.
Early papers on the proposal suggest there would be no salary threshold for immigrants.
Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives have offered broad support to the visa scheme.
Ms Sturgeon’s plans could be upstaged by measures to be announced by Downing Street for a fast-track UK visa for scientists, mathematicians and researchers.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the Global Talent visa will be open from 20 February to those who work in a qualifying field and have been endorsed by a recognised UK body.
Mr Johnson said he wanted to emphasise “that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world”.
EU researchers account for about half of the total UK scientific workforce of 211,000.
Currently, they do not need visas to work in British labs. But freedom of movement between the UK and EU is expected to end after the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.