Rural visa pilot proposal: September 2022

A pilot proposal document, developed by Scottish Government in collaboration with local authorities and business sector organisations, about a targeted migration solution for remote and rural areas of Scotland, to meet the discrete and specific needs of these communities and their local economies.


1 Full review of the shortage occupation list, May 2019 - GOV.UK (

2 ‘Strategic mitigation’ is defined as an approach whereby migration is targeted in order to attract migrants with the skills and profile that would best address socio-economic challenges created by population decline

3 UK Immigration Policy After Leaving the EU: Impacts on Scotland’s economy, population and society

4 James Hutton Institute: Demographic change in the Sparsely Populated Areas of Scotland (1991-2046)

5 Levelling Up the United Kingdom - GOV.UK (

6 UK immigration policy after leaving the EU: impacts on Scotland's economy, population and society - (

7 The Migration Observatory - The end of free movement and the low-wage labour force in the UK

8 Levelling Up the United Kingdom - GOV.UK (

9 Evidence of previous patterns of mobility to remote and rural areas suggests that migrants often move on their own for the first one or two years, and are then joined by family once they have a stable income, suitable accommodation, and have worked out where their children might go to school.

10 Travel to work area analysis in Great Britain - Office for National Statistics (

11 TTWAs would provide a suitable starting geographic size and boundary within which a scheme could be built. TTWAs are not linked to local authority boundaries, as for example one local authority may contain more than one TTWA within it and TTWAs can span local authority boundaries. However, for the most part Scotland’s remote and rural TTWAs do nest within local authority boundaries (e.g. TTWA of Broadford and Kyle of Lochalsh nests within Highland Council). As part of the designated area identification process, local authorities who are willing to host the scheme would therefore need to agree final boundaries with the Scottish Government and UK Government.

12 Examples of communities in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot launched in 2019 across Canada include Claresholm (Alberta), Altona / Rhineland (Manitoba), and Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan). Many of these areas represent analogous geographies to the TTWAs in remote and rural parts of Scotland.

13 Data Zones are a key small area geographic unit nested within local authorities, typically containing between 500 and 1000 people. Data Zone geography covers the whole of Scotland and there are in excess of 6,000 Data Zones.

14 The Migration Advisory Committee advised in regard to the methodological design of a scheme that ‘trying to address these problems through regional SOLs is unlikely to be successful’, and that ‘something more bespoke for these areas is needed.’

15 ONS Occupation Coding Tool (

16 Fair work and pay - Employment support - (

17 The Scottish Government’s Talent Attraction and Migration Service is anticipated to be launched in 2023. The service will provide support to bring in skilled workers and help them to make Scotland their home.



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