Visa scheme proposed by government to address rural and island depopulation

People from around the world would be supported to live in Scotland in the event of independence in a proposed initiative.

Visa scheme proposed by government to address rural and island depopulation Getty Images

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.

Recent figures from the National Records of Scotland show the population shrinking to 5.39 million by 2045, dropping from a peak of 5.48 million in 2028.

The proposed initiatives will be piloted in particular areas to help migrants settle in rural and island communities – drawing inspiration from similar 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.

New visa scheme proposed by Scottish Government to tackle rural depopulationiStock

“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.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “Immigration is a UK Government reserved matter and the points-based immigration system works in the interest of the whole of the UK.

“De-population in rural areas of Scotland can’t be remedied by immigration as rural areas may struggle to retain migrants for the same reasons as with the local population. Investment in jobs and infrastructure – which devolved administrations have powers to address – must be considered.”

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