Coming to Scotland as a non-European Economic Area national

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-European Economic Area national

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 from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you will 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:

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

If you are going to invest £200,000 in a new or existing business in Scotland or rest of the UK, you require a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

Your business must create at least two new full-time jobs or several part-time jobs amounting to the same number of hours worked per week as the two full-time jobs.

In certain circumstances an investment of £50,000 is acceptable. However, this only applies if the money is from one or more venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), a UK Trade and Investment registered seed funding competition or from a UK government or devolved government department.

Tier 1 (Investor)

If you are going to make an investment of £2,000,000 or more into Scotland, you can apply for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa.

Tier 2 (General)

If you have an employer in Scotland who is willing to sponsor you because you have specialised expertise and there is a gap in the Scottish workforce that cannot be filled by someone else in the European Economic Area, you may be eligible to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa. 

In addition to sponsoring you, your employer may have to satisfy the ‘Resident Labour Market’ test, proving that no other person in the EEA has the skills to do the specified job as well as you.

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.

You can be eligible for this visa through any grandparent born in the UK, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, or in what is now the Republic of Ireland if they were born before 31 March 1922. Eligibility cannot be gained through great-grandparents, nor through step-parents.

Tier 5 (Youth mobility scheme)

If you come from certain countries, are aged between 18 and 30 and have £1,890 in savings, you may be eligible to apply for a Tier 5 (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:

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.

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.

English language and maintenance

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 clearance entry 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.