Rural migration in an independent Scotland

New visa proposals would help address rural and island depopulation.

People from around the world would be supported to live, work and raise families in Scotland’s rural and island communities in the event of independence, under Scottish Government proposals.

The latest ‘Building a New Scotland’ prospectus paper focuses on migration in an independent Scotland and sets out how a new Live in Scotland Visa would help to address depopulation in rural areas.

The proposed initiatives will be piloted in particular areas to help migrants settle in rural and island communities - drawing inspiration from similar successful schemes around the world.

Migration Minister Emma Roddick said:

“Migrants already make a vital contribution to Scotland’s economy, society and culture, particularly in rural and island areas. With the full powers of a normal independent nation, Scotland’s approach to migration could help ensure we meet our population needs for the future.

“With independence, we can test exciting new ways to attract and support people to make their lives in Scotland. This includes activity in particular geographical areas as part of our Live in Scotland Visa to support people with a wide range of skills and characteristics to set down roots in rural and island areas.

“The aim of these initiatives will be to support migrants to raise families, create opportunities, and enrich communities in every part of the country – while also supporting those communities to welcome, manage and include new residents. Importantly, we learn from countries like Canada where targeted migration schemes have benefited rural provinces and territories.

“Helping tackle the challenge of depopulation, inward migration of people who want to come to live, study and work in Scotland would also boost local economies and support public services, helping these places grow and flourish well into the future.”


Proposals for pilots to attract and support people to live in particular geographical areas would be developed in collaboration with local and national delivery partners, communities and our Expert Advisory Group on Migration and Population.

The evaluation of the Canada’s Atlantic Immigration Pilot can be found here: Evaluation of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot - This has now been replaced with a permanent programme: Atlantic Immigration Program -

Building a New Scotland 

Building a New Scotland series  

Six papers have now been published. They set out evidence showing independent countries comparable to Scotland are wealthier and fairer than the UK; how Scottish democracy can be renewed with independence; the macroeconomic framework, including currency arrangements, for an independent Scotland; how a written constitution could put democracy, rights and equality at the heart of everything we do; citizenship in an independent Scotland; and migration


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