1. Scotland is a welcoming and inclusive nation. We value everyone, no matter where they were born, who has chosen to make Scotland their home; to live, work, study, raise their families and build their lives here and make a positive contribution. Migration is an issue which is crucial for our future economic and social wellbeing. We need an approach that meets Scotland's needs and allows our communities and our economy to flourish.
2. As the world becomes more interconnected people need to move across international boundaries for work and for learning. This includes international students, researchers, artists, performers, people who want to grow their career or indeed just to experience life and work in a different culture. Yet the UK Government's immigration system is a barrier to this.
3. Our previous responses to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) have clearly outlined the positive contributions of migrants - to our economy, our public services, our culture and the enrichment of society as a whole. In March 2019 our response to the MAC's review of the Shortage Occupation List set out the vital contributions and positive impact that people from EEA and non-EEA countries make to Scotland, across the economy. Similarly, our response to the most recent call for evidence on the proposed Salary Threshold and Points-Based Immigration System in December 2019 outlined that a salary-selective system would disproportionally negatively affect Scotland. The evidence outlined in these reports is equally applicable to the Intra-Company Transfer route.
4. It should be noted that the Scottish Government has been consistent in arguing for devolution of immigration powers as The UK Government's immigration policy fails to address Scotland's distinct demographic, economic and cultural needs. As outlined in our 2020 policy paper Migration: Helping Scotland Prosper, even the devolution of aspects of migration policy within the UK system would start to allow Scotland's most acute needs to be met. Shared responsibility for migration would allow additional routes, options and solutions for Scotland, which the Scottish Government would aim to make less restrictive in Scotland than existing UK policy
5. This paper sets out the Scottish Government's response to the call for evidence launched by the UK MAC on Intra-Company Transfers (ICT) and provides evidence on the use of the ICT category by businesses with a base in Scotland as well as outlining how the route could be made more flexible and responsive to the needs of the Scottish economy. Our response draws on evidence from previous submissions to the MAC, analysis from the Independent Expert Advisory Group on Migration and Population (EAG) and qualitative feedback from stakeholders and supplementary evidence from organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
6. In responding to this call for evidence, the Scottish Government and businesses across Scotland have found the timing of this consultation problematic given that organisations are simultaneously focused on economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19, mitigating the impact of Brexit and adapting to a new immigration system. All of which has limited organisations' capacity to engage with the review at this time. It should also be noted that the majority of stakeholders preferred to not be identifiable by their responses and therefore their feedback presented in this report has been anonymised.
7. It should be noted that this consultation is being carried out whilst migration levels have been limited by the Covid-19 pandemic. This has been demonstrated by the fall in the number of skilled worker visas granted. Therefore, current engagement with stakeholders will not capture the impact of the new UK immigration system post-Brexit.
8. The Scottish Government considers that the ICT route should be retained in order to provide rapid mobilisation of international workers to meet business needs. The agility provided by the route is often required by business but is lacking across the other visa categories of the UK points-based immigration system. ICTs will become an increasingly important for the UK's economic recovery if more restrictive measures are reapplied to the Skilled Worker route.
9. In addition, the UK is currently not experiencing the full impact of reduced EU mobility due to the current COVID-19 international travel restrictions. It is anticipated that there will be an increase in similar organisations looking to the ICT route to meet their short term needs where the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) has failed to meet their needs.
10. It is essential that the route reflects the requirements of Scottish business and is fit for purpose for a 21st century global economy. On the international stage the UK needs to have a workable ICT category and it is hoped that the MAC consultation will assist in updating the criteria to make it more useful for multinational companies.