Coming to Scotland as a non-British or non-Irish on or after December 2020

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.

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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:

Start-up Visa

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.

Innovator Visa 

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

If you are going to make an investment of £2,000,000 or more into Scotland, you can apply for an Investor visa.

Skilled Worker

If you have an employer in Scotland who is willing to sponsor you for a role which meets the minimum skill and salary requirements, you may be eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker visa. 

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

UK ancestry

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 will be available for British Nationals (Overseas) from 31 January 2021.

This will allow 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.

Student visa

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.

Graduate Visa

The UK government has confirmed that the graduate route will be launched in summer 2021. The graduate route will provide international students the opportunity to stay in the UK to work or look for work after they graduate. Undergraduate and masters degree students will be able to stay for two years under the route, whilst PHD students will be able to stay for three years. Further details can be found under the section headed graduate route.

Standard visitor visa

If you and your family want to visit Scotland, you can apply for a standard visitor visa. 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.

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

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.