Coming to Scotland as a non-British or non-Irish citizen
From America to India, China and beyond, we’re welcoming people from around the world to use their specialised skills in industries across Scotland. With the right visa, you can join them.
If you are non-British or non-Irish, you will usually need a visa to live and work in Scotland. The type of visa you require depends on what you want to do when you’re in Scotland – such as visiting, working or studying.
Some of the most common visas that allow you to live and work or carry out business related activities in Scotland and the rest of the UK include:
You may be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa if you have a job offer with an employer in Scotland who is willing to sponsor you and the role is:
- On the list of eligible occupations here (generally roles which are 'medium skilled' and above); and
- Paid the relevant minimum salary or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher (in some cases, this can be less, for example if you have a PhD relevant to the role). Further details on salary requirements can be found here.
Full details on the criteria which must be met under this visa category (such as the English language requirement) can be found here
You may be eligible for a Scale Up visa if you have a job offer from a qualifying UK scale-up who is willing to sponsor you and the role is:
- An eligible occupation (which is those which are highly skilled only); and
- Paid the relevant minimum salary or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher (the minimum salary for this route is £33,000).
Those with Scale-Up visa will be required to work in the qualifying role they are sponsored to do for their sponsor for a minimum of six months. After this initial six-month period, you are able to work for any employer in the UK at any skill or salary level. However, to extend your visa or to settle in the UK, individuals must be able to evidence PAYE earnings of at least £33,000 per year for a prerequisite period of time. For further information on this route, visit the UK Government website.
Global Business Mobility ('GBM')
From 11th April 2022, you may be eligible for a GBM visa if you work for an overseas business, have a UK sponsor and will be one of the following:
- Senior or Specialist Worker - For senior managers or specialist employees being assigned to a UK business linked to their employer overseas.
- Graduate Trainee - for those on a graduate training course leading to a senior management/specialist position required to do a work placement in the UK.
- UK Expansion Worker - For senior managers or specialist employees being assigned to the UK to undertake work related to a business’s expansion to the UK.
- Service Supplier – For contractual service suppliers employed by an overseas service provider and self-employed independent professionals based overseas, who need to undertake an assignment in the UK (covered by a UK trade commitment).
- Secondment Worker – For those being seconded to the UK as part of a high-value contract or investment by their employer overseas.
All subcategories are subject to minimum skills and salary levels. For further information on this route, details can be found here.
Global Talent Visa
You may be eligible for a Global Talent visa if you work in a qualifying field and meet the relevant criteria in order to obtain endorsement from an approved endorser.
Each endorser will have their own criteria which details how you qualify:
- as a leading talent; or
- as a potential leading talent
Find out more about the global talent visa and approved endorsers on gov.uk/global-talent
The Start-up category is intended for high potential entrepreneurs who are seeking to start up a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants under this category will not require to evidence access to investment funds for their business. You will require an endorsement from an approved endorsing body which will include leading business organisations and higher education institutions.
The Start-up visa will be issued for a period of 2 years. Towards the end of this period, you will be able to apply to switch into the ‘Innovator’ category.
This category is for more experienced business people seeking to establish a business in the UK. You will generally require a minimum of £50,000 funding available to be invested into your business and will also require an endorsement from an approved endorsing body.
Visas under this category will be issued for 3 years in the first instance. Towards the end of this period, you will have the option to apply for an extension for a further 3 years, or to apply to settle permanently in the UK.
Investor - closed 17 February 2022
This route was previously for those who were investing at least £2million in UK certain qualifying company shares or loan capital. It closed to new applicant in February 2022 but continues to exist for those already in the UK under this route who need to extend their visas.
If you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country and have a grandparent who was born in the UK, you can apply for a visa to live and work in Scotland and the rest of the UK. This visa lasts five years. You must be aged 17 or over and have the intention to undertake work, as well as showing that you have enough money to support yourself in Scotland.
To be eligible, the qualifying grandparent must have been born:
Eligibility cannot be gained through great-grandparents, nor through step-parents.
Temporary Worker (Youth mobility scheme)
If you come from certain countries, are aged between 18 and 30 and have £ 2,530 in savings, you may be eligible to apply for a Temporary Worker (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa. This visa will last for up to two years and will allow you to live and work in the UK during this time.
There are many other categories of visa listed on the Home Office website including:
Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa
The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa is a visa available for British Nationals (Overseas) .
This allows those who qualify to apply to enter or remain in the UK for up to 30 months initially to live, work and study. It may be possible to extend this visa subject to the eligibility requirements. Further details can be found in the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) visa Guidance.
Generally you must first secure a place at a licensed education institution, which can then sponsor you for your visa application. There are a number of additional requirements you must meet in order to obtain your student visa. For further information visit ‘Study in Scotland’ website.
The graduate route provides international students the opportunity to stay in the UK to work or look for work after they graduate. Undergraduate and masters degree students can to stay for two years under the route, whilst PHD students can stay for three years. Further details can be found here.
High Potential Individual Visa
From 30th May 2022, this visa route will provide graduates of certain qualifying non-UK universities the opportunity to come to the UK to work. To qualify, individuals will have to have graduated from a qualifying non-UK university in the 5 years before they make their application.
A list of qualifying universities has been published by UKVI and will be reviewed annually. Undergraduate and masters degree students can come to the UK for two years under the route, whilst PHD students can come for three years.
Standard visitor visa
If you and your family want to visit Scotland, you can usually enter the UK as a visitor (but please note certain nationalities must apply for a standard visitor visa in advance of travel t the UK). It allows you to travel around the country and the rest of the UK for up to a maximum of six months. For further details see the visitor rules.
English language and financial requirement
For almost all types of visas there are very stringent requirements that require to be met to prove English language skills and the ability to support yourself financially. The exact requirements are different for each visa category and details are shown on the Home Office website under visa category.
For those affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, or for Ukrainian nationals who want to come to the UK or who are already in the UK and who may need to extend their visa, please follow this link to see the UK government's guidance on the UK visa support available for Ukrainian nationals.
For the latest updates from the UK government, please following this link.
When and where to apply
You must apply for your visa or permit before you travel to Scotland and the UK. If you do not have the required entry clearance documents, you can be refused entry to the UK and sent back home. There are specific requirements that you will need to meet depending on the visa you are applying for.
You may have to apply online depending where you are located. Normally you apply for your visa or permit to allow you to enter and work in the UK at a British Visa Application Centre – these are often at British Embassies, Consulates or High Commissions located around the world. You can find out where to apply in your country on the Home Office website.
Processing times vary depending on the type of document you are applying for and where you are applying from. You can find out about current visa processing times on the Home Office website.