Immigration and Scotland Contents

1Introduction

1.Immigration was a significant theme in several of the inquiries conducted by our predecessor Committee, particularly its work into Post-study work schemes for Scotland1 and the Demography of Scotland and the implications for devolution.2 The UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the UK Government’s intention of ending freedom of movement has created uncertainty about future immigration arrangements; it is also an opportunity to review immigration policy to ensure it reflects the needs of all parts of the UK, including Scotland.

Current immigration framework

2.Immigration policy is reserved to the UK and decisions about the levels and composition of migration are managed by the Home Office. The UK Government’s current policy is to reduce net migration to the UK to the “tens of thousands”. The Government is supported by the Migration Advisory Committee­—made up of a Chair and other independent economists—which is responsible for providing transparent, independent and evidence-based advice to the Government on migration issues including: the impacts of immigration, the limits on immigration under the current points based system, and skills shortages within occupations. The Scottish Government has no formal role in immigration policy but is responsible for some related policy areas, such as migrant integration.

3.As a member of the European Union and the European Single Market, all citizens of countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) currently have the right to move freely and work in the UK. The vast majority of other overseas citizens who wish to come to the UK to work, study, invest or train must apply for a visa under the UK Government’s points-based visa system.3

Our inquiry

4.We launched this inquiry to examine Scotland’s immigration needs and explore the extent to which they are met by the current immigration framework; to hear the views of businesses and other experts about how the system could be improved; and to explore options for meeting Scotland’s immigration needs post-Brexit. We started this work in October 2017, and have taken evidence from: academics, business representatives, EU citizens living in Scotland, the Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee and Ministers from the Scottish and UK Governments. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to this inquiry.


1 Scottish Affairs Committee, Post-study work scheme, Fourth Report of the Session 2015–16, HC 593

2 Scottish Affairs Committee, Demography of Scotland and the implications for devolution, Second Report of the Session 2016–7, HC 82




Published: 11 July 2018