Welcome for rural visa scheme proposal

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Angus South MSP Graeme Dey, has welcomed the publication of a proposal for a bespoke rural visa pilot scheme for Scotland, endorsed by the Scottish Parliament.

This community-driven and employer-based migration proposal has been jointly developed by the Scottish Government, local authorities and key representatives from employers and partners based within remote and rural communities.

It has been welcomed by Scottish Rural Action, among those organisations that contributed to its development, which has said they now “hope that the UK Government considers this proposal and acts upon it”.

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The Scottish Rural Community Immigration Pilot (SRCIP) proposal, which requires to be implemented by the UK Government, is modelled on the successful Canadian Atlantic Immigration Program. In 2019, the then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, accepted a recommendation by the Migration Advisory Committee for pilot a scheme to attract and retain migrants in remote areas.

Angus South MSP Graeme Dey.Angus South MSP Graeme Dey.
Angus South MSP Graeme Dey.

The proposed scheme would allow rural and remote communities to attract migrants in line with their distinct needs, with participating employer-sponsors within designated geographic areas advertising vacancies. Employers and communities would then be able to assess prospective candidates, before recommending chosen candidates to the Home Office for final approval and security checks.

Once a decision is approved, community partners would offer a package of integrated settlement support services for newcomers. Participating employers, in collaboration with Scottish Government and UK Government organisations, would also have responsibility for ensuring that terms and conditions of the scheme continued to be met.

The Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary, Mairi Gougeon MSP, has written to the UK Government setting out the proposal, alongside a wider call for a tailored migration policy which meets the needs of Scotland’s economy, public services and communities.

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Mr Dey said: “Obviously, the Scottish Government and SNP believe an independent Scotland would be best placed to deliver an immigration system that meets Scotland’s needs, and – within the limitations of devolution – this proposal is not one that the Scottish Government can itself enact.

“But, based on a clear demand, the Scottish Parliament has backed it, and the UK Government should now make this happen if it cares about the prospects of rural Scotland.

“The Brexit impact on immigration, among many other areas, is continuing to hurt Scotland – the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach must now be reformed as a matter of urgency.”