Welcome pack for New Scots

The New Scots vision is “For a welcoming Scotland where refugees and asylum seekers are able to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive”.

Employment and training

People who are recognised as refugees, or have been granted other forms of humanitarian protection including displaced people, have the right to work in the UK.

Asylum seekers do not have an automatic right to work while their asylum case is being considered. If an applicant has not received an initial decision after twelve months, the applicant can request permission to work from the Home Office. If permission to work is granted, any job taken up must be included on the list of shortage occupations published by UK Visas and Immigration. Some asylum seekers may be granted discretionary leave status, which gives them the right to work.

The Scottish Government and local government have a long-term focus on supporting people who need help to access the labour market. Employability is a key priority, which recognises the role of other services, such as education, community learning and development, social care, planning and economic development functions.

Welfare benefits

Refugees, displaced people and people who have been granted humanitarian protection have the right to access welfare benefits. Support for people seeking employment, in terms of support into work and access to benefits, remains reserved to the UK Government. This includes welfare benefits, including Universal Credit. While some social security powers are devolved to the Scottish Government, all employment related and income replacement benefits remain reserved to the UK Government.

Asylum Seekers have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) and therefore are restricted from accessing certain public funds which are defined under Immigration Rules. This includes most welfare benefits, local authority housing and the Scottish Welfare Fund. People seeking asylum can apply to the Home Office for financial support, as well as accommodation, if they would otherwise be destitute while awaiting a decision on their application. Asylum, including the provision of asylum support, and immigration, including policy on NRPF, are matters reserved to the UK Parliament.

Finding work

There are a number of ways to find work in Scotland and below is a list of some of the support services that we provide to help you in securing employment. You should ask your Job Centre Plus work coach about these services

  • Local authority support – services put in place by local authorities and their partners will assist people to easily navigate public services, providing the right support at the right time and consider your needs as you move towards work. This support is also available to people awaiting the outcome of asylum applications.
  • Fair Start Scotland – this provides 12-18 months of tailored, flexible, and person-centred pre-employment support to help to find and stay in fair and sustainable work

Organisations delivering these services are expected to support individuals to access additional services that they may need to find work, including language support, mental health support, signposting to skills services, as well as further and higher education. These services will also support access to childcare services where appropriate.

Careers information and guidance

Skills Development Scotland is Scotland's national skills body and provides career information, advice and guidance, as well as work-based training programmes aimed at building career management skills. They support a wide range of pathways into work, including Modern Apprenticeships (further information below). There are Careers Centres based in each local authority area which you can visit to access support.

There is also an online service, My World of Work, which can assist you through every stage of your working life. Anyone can access information on a wide range of subjects, including choosing a career, learning and training, applying for jobs and making a career change. You will find information on researching careers to building your CV.

They also deliver Career Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) services. The service enables people to adequately prepare for, enter and progress through the labour market, and to fulfil their potential in the workplace.

Working in your local area

You can apply to work for your local council across a wide range of job roles and services. Visit the following links to search and apply for jobs in your area:

Jobcentre Plus helps people to find and progress in work, including those who are unemployed and claiming benefits. Visit your nearest Jobcentre Plus for help with finding a job and information on any benefits you and your family might be entitled to, or find out more about how to manage an existing benefit, payment or claim.

You can find more information on the support services for working, jobs and careers.

Modern apprenticeships (MAs)

People with refugee or humanitarian protection status can participate in modern apprenticeships.

Modern apprenticeships in Scotland can offer you opportunities to learn on the job, get the experience you need, and work towards a qualification.

Graduate apprenticeships (GAs)

Graduate Apprenticeships provide work-based learning opportunities up to Master's degree level for new and existing employees. They have been created in partnership with industry and the further and higher education sector. The apprenticeships combine academic knowledge with skills development to enable participants to become more effective and productive in the workplace.


Displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers have the right to volunteer. Volunteering can offer some of the same benefits that working provides including: opportunities to use and develop skills; a sense of purpose; and links to other people in the community. Volunteering can also be beneficial as a way of increasing employability, by gaining experience which could ultimately support a job application. For any queries on volunteering speak to your local Third Sector Interface (TSI). There is a TSI in every Local Authority area. Find your nearest TSI.

Your National Insurance number (NINO)

You have a National Insurance number to make sure your National Insurance contributions and tax are recorded against your name only. It's made up of letters and numbers and never changes.

You can look for and start work without a National Insurance number if you can prove you can work in the UK. You can also go online to allow you to authorise an employer to access your data to prove that you have the right to work in the UK.

Employers are required to conduct mandatory Right to Work checks on all prospective employees. Having a National Insurance number is not part of these checks, and the possession of a National Insurance number does not prove that an individual has a right to work.

Find more information on how to obtain a National Insurance number.

As part of the application process for a National Insurance number, you may be required to attend a face-to-face appointment where the Department for Work and Pensions can validate and confirm your identity and right to work.

Qualifications recognition

People with a non-UK professional qualification may need to have their qualification officially recognised to work in a profession that is regulated in the UK. It will need to be recognised by the appropriate regulator for a particular profession.

Professionals with non-UK qualifications should contact the appropriate UK or Scottish regulator for further information. If professionals are uncertain of the appropriate regulator, they can contact: UK Centre of Professional Qualifications [UKCPQ] to find out which regulatory or professional body they should contact for further information on how to get their professional qualification recognised.

If your qualification has already been officially recognised by the relevant UK regulator, make sure you understand the terms of your recognition decision by checking in with that regulator.

Applying for Basic Disclosure

A basic disclosure is a criminal record check issued by Disclosure Scotland an executive agency of the Scottish Government. This is often required by employers when you are applying for a job. You get a certificate showing any 'unspent' criminal convictions you may have that are recorded in records held in the UK.

In the UK, a conviction can be either spent or unspent. There is information about the rules in Scotland when a conviction can become spent. You need to declare an unspent conviction to an employer if asked.

You can use this basic disclosure certificate to show to prospective employers or other people that need to know this information. There is a fee that must be paid when a basic disclosure application is made.

Business support

Business Gateway offices across Scotland provide in-person business support services and impartial advice to people starting or running a business They can help find funding, explain regulations, and signpost access to other local authority and Enterprise Agency services. You can call them l 0300 013 4753 every Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Online support can be found via the Find Business Support website which gives an overview of all funding and services offered by public sector organisations across Scotland. Support includes advice, funding, networking opportunities, training, webinars and more.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

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