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Emigrating to Scotland

If you plan on emigrating to Scotland, you must need to know how to apply for a visa with the Scottish government. This guide will discuss everything you need to know about visa types and how to plan for emigrating to Scotland successfully.

The immigration process can be challenging to navigate by yourself. Contact our team of experienced and professional immigration lawyers at IAS at +1 844 290 6312 for support.

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    Overview of Emigrating to Scotland from USA

    Immigration adds approximately 21,600 citizens to the Scottish population. The Edinburgh festival fringe and abundant natural scenery make Scotland an attractive option for potential migrants.

    Emigrating to Scotland successfully requires in-depth knowledge of the immigration process, eligibility requirements, and what you can access as a US citizen in Scotland.

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    Who Is Eligible to Become a Scottish Citizen?

    To become a Scottish citizen, you must qualify as a Great British citizen. Below are some of the routes you can take to become a Great British citizen:

    • Birth – if you were born in the UK, and have at least one parent with UK citizenship.
    • Descent – if one or both of your parents are British, and you were born overseas, you could still access British citizen status.
    • Naturalization – if you have lived in Scotland for over 5 years, then you can apply for citizenship.
    • Marriage – if you are the spouse of a British citizen, you can access a spousal visa that grants you permanent residency.

    Here are some of the basic requirements to meet if you plan on moving to Scotland:

    • You must be over the age of 18.
    • You must have a clean criminal record and a track history of good character.
    • You must pass the Life in the UK government test.
    • You must have a visa or permission to live in the UK  throughout the application process.
    • You must pass the English test with the required score – an IELTS score of at least 7 in reading, listening and speaking and an IELTS score of at least 6.5 in writing. If you have a degree from a higher-level education course in English, you do not need to take this test.
    • You must have lived in the UK for 5 years without leaving the country for more than 450 days.

    If you meet the this requirements, you qualify to apply for a visa via the UK Immigration Services.

    from us to scotland

    What Are the Required Documents for a Scottish Visa?

    If you plan on moving to Scotland from the US, you must prepare supporting paperwork for your application. The document requirements will vary depending on the visa you apply for. Generally, you must provide the following documents when applying for a visa in Scotland:

    • Your completed visa application form.
    • Two passport-sized photographs against a plain background in clear lighting.
    • Financial statements evidencing sufficient funds to live in Scotland.
    • Proof of accommodation (rental agreement, mortgage contract, hotel booking).
    • A valid passport from your country of origin.
    • Your travel itinerary (for the Tourist Visa).
    • Biometric information.
    • Test results from a medical examination performed by a qualified professional (including tests for tuberculosis).
    • A formal job offer (if you are travelling to Scotland under a Work Visa).
    • Results from your English written, speaking, and writing assessments.

    Documentation becomes more complex when you are travelling to the UK to start a business or for work.

    To work in the UK under a Worker Visa, you must provide proof of your job offer. In addition, the company you work for must be licensed to hire professionals from outside the UK. To start a business, you may need to provide your business plans and proof of endorsement from an approved source.

    If you are moving to Scotland to live with your spouse or fianceé, you must provide your marriage certificate or proof of your intent to marry within 6 months of arriving in the UK.

    Students must provide proof of their intent to study in the UK, an acceptance letter from their chosen university or their Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. You must also provide the original qualifications listed in your CAS statement.

    All documents should be translated if they are not already in English or Welsh. You will need to provide certified, notarized copies of the original and translated documents.

    To learn more about the correct paperwork needed and the application process you can contact our experienced immigration lawyers at IAS for support.

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      Types of Visas for Moving to Scotland from the USA


      In addition to understanding your eligibility for Scottish citizenship, you must also understand your visa options. You may not need to apply for a visa if you’re visiting Scotland for under 6 months. However, if you plan to stay longer, you will need to apply for a visa to allow you to become a long-term resident in Scotland.

      You may wish to seek the advice of an immigration specialist before selecting which visa to apply for, especially as any possible refusal or rejection of your application could have impact on your future immigration status.

      Here are the types of visas to choose from:

      • Student Visas
      • Family Visas
      • Business Visas
      • Work Visas

      Student Visas

      There are several different types of international student visa that can help you to access education in Scotland:

      Student Visa (former Tier 4)

      This visa type is best suited to students seeking undergraduate or postgraduate courses in Scotland.

      Child Student Visa

      Children between the ages of 4 and 17 can apply for a Child Student Visa to access primary school and high school education provided by the Scottish education system.

      Graduate Visa

      If you have a UK-approved higher education certificate, you can access a Graduate Visa, which will allow you to stay in Scotland once you have graduated until you secure a job offer in your chosen field. This visa lasts for between 2 and 3 years depending on the exact nature of your qualifications and skills.

      Family Visas

      A few different visa types will allow you to live with your family in Scotland.

      Spousal Visa

      If your spouse has citizenship in Britain, you can live with them by applying for the Spousal Visa. You can live in Britain for 33 months under this visa before reapplying.

      Fiancé(e) Visa

      If you marry a British citizen, you can move to Scotland to marry them using the Fiancée Visa. However, you must marry your partner within 6 months of entry. Once married you can switch to a Spouse Visa.

      Adult Dependent Relative Visa

      You can move to the UK to provide long-term care to a relative (brother, sister, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild) under the Adult Dependent Relative Visa. However, the relative must be:

      • A British or Irish citizen.
      • Have permanent residence.
      • From the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Lichtenstein and have pre-settled status since before the 1st of January 2021.
      • Have refugee status or UK humanitarian protection.

      Parental Visa

      If you are applying as a parent, please note that you cannot apply for a Parental Visa in the UK if you are eligible for a Spousal Visa. The child must also meet the following eligibility requirements:

      • Your child must be under 18 years of age on the date of application.
      • Or, you must have been granted leave before your child was 18, and they are not yet living independently.

      If your child has left home, married, or had children, they will not be classed as living independently.

      Your child and their other parent should have the legal right to live in the UK as a permanent resident or UK citizen.

      Business Visas


      You may need to live in Britain to start or develop a business. For this, you must apply for a business visa to visit Scotland.

      Start-Up Visa

      If you are a high-potential entrepreneur, you can access a 2-year Start-Up Visa to establish your business in the UK or Scotland permanently. You do not need to provide proof of investment, but you will need endorsements. However, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

      • You must be endorsed by either a UK higher education institution, or a business with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.
      • Your business idea must be:
        • A new idea – your business mustn’t already be actively trading.
        • An innovative idea – your business idea must be unique.
        • Viable – your business idea must have potential.

      If your endorsement is cut short, you cannot stay in the UK, and you cannot renew this visa. Instead, you must apply for an Innovator Visa.

      Please note: On 13 April 2023, this route will close for any businesses that have not received endorsement before the closing date. Businesses that receive endorsement before 13 April 2023 can apply until 12 July 2023.

      Innovator Visa

      If you have established a successful start-up in Scotland and have reached the end of your 2-year Start-Up Visa, you can apply for the Innovator Visa. You will need an established business with at least £50,000 of funding and an endorsement from an approved endorsing body.

      Please note: the Innovator Visa will change on the 13th of April, 2023 and be combined under the new Innovator Founder Visa route.

      Global Talent Visa

      Business leaders can access a Global Talent Visa if they meet the eligibility requirements. To be eligible for the Global Talent Visa, you must work in one of the eligible fields, and an approved endorser must endorse you.

      If you are a recognized leader or exceptional talent in the following fields, you will be eligible for the Global Talent Visa:

      • Academics and research.
      • Arts and culture.
      • Digital technology.

      Investor Visa (Tier 1)

      This visa is only available for extension. Those who already have the visa can renew it, but if you do not have a Tier 1 Visa already, you cannot apply – as of February 2022.

      You can reapply and remain in the UK if you have invested over £2 million in share or loan capital for UK companies during your visa. These UK companies must still be active at the time of reapplication.

      Should you live in the UK for 5 years under the Investor Visa, you will be able to apply for permanent residency. If you have invested over £5 million during your visa term, you may be able to apply for permanent residency sooner.

      Work Visas

      A Work Visa can make a US citizen’s move to Scotland successful. Here are the different types of Work Visa for professionals:

      • Tier 2 (General Visa) – The applicant must meet English speaker requirements for a Tier 2 Work Visa. They must also have an employer with a valid Sponsor License and a score of 70 points. The worker must also meet the salary requirements for a Skilled Worker Visa.
      • Temporary Work Visa – a Temporary Work Visa allows US citizens to move to Scotland temporarily to accept a job offer. You will need an official job offer from an approved UK-based employer, and you can work in the UK for 12 months under this visa.

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        The Visa Application Process

        Once you have decided to move to Scotland,, you must begin the visa application process. During this process, you will need to take the following steps:

        • Verify your eligibility.
        • Visit the Scottish or UK Government website to access the application form.
        • Prepare your application form and supporting documents.
        • Provide your biometric data.
        • Submit your application and pay the processing fee.
        • Wait for approval. The approval process could take up to six months. However, the process can take as little as 29 days for certain visas. You can speed the process up by paying for a fast track for your application.

        The application process can be difficult to understand, and it can be helpful to have an immigration lawyer to provide you with knowledge and experience. At IAS, our helpful team of experts can instruct you throughout the application process, ensuring nothing is absent from your application and providing a referral letter to strengthen your application.

        How Long Is the Processing Time for a Scottish Visa?

        If you apply for a Scottish Resident Visa, you may wait up to 6 months before receiving your visa.

        You can appeal the decision with the First-Tier Tribunal if your visa is denied. To access a hearing for your appeal, you will need to pay £140 but to submit your appeal without a hearing; you will only need to pay £80.

        If you need help with your visa appeal, you can contact immigration specialists here at IAS. Our team of immigration lawyers can provide you with the knowledge and advice to improve your chance of success.

        Why Might My Scottish Visa Application Be Rejected?

        Your Scottish Visa application might be rejected if you do not meet the eligibility requirements. You may not qualify as a skilled worker, or your criminal history may make you unfit for a visa. If your visa is rejected, you can appeal and you may want to request the help of a legal professional.

        An unsuccessful visa application will likely have a negative impact on any future applications, as it will still appear in your records. Good immigration history is something the UK immigration service looks for when evaluating any application.

        A visa refusal could also cost you money if you decide to appeal as you will not receive a refund for your visa fees.

        It is essential to recognise that there are negative consequences to visa refusal. This is why seeking professional help during both the application and appeal processes is advisable, increasing the likelihood of a successful application.

        What Is the NHS Surcharge for US Visa Holders?

        If you are an immigrant living in Scotland permanently, you can access free comprehensive healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS offers healthcare on a residency basis, so if you possess a visa to live and work in Scotland, you can access free healthcare.

        To help you access healthcare as soon as you enter the country, you have the opportunity to pay an immigration health surcharge (IHS) when submitting your visa application. This surcharge will ensure you can access NHS services once your visa is approved and you can enter the country.

        The surcharge can be paid when you book an appointment for a visa, or you can pay the surcharge online. If you pay the surcharge before submitting your application, you must include your IHS reference number.

        When Does the IHS Take Effect?

        Once you have paid the surcharge you can access healthcare services in the UK.

        When you visit an NHS service, you should still be prepared to provide your biometric residence permit. Alternatively, you can evidence your resident status using online information with your residence permit share card.

        The IHS does not cover all healthcare expenses, and you may still be charged for the following services:

        • Dental treatments (unless you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or below the age of 26).
        • Eye tests with an optometrist.
        • Assisted conception services (such as IVF).
        • Prescriptions

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          How Can IAS Help?

          Moving to Scotland from the US requires time, effort, and consideration. The application process can be lengthy and complex, which is why you might benefit from the assistance of an immigration expert.

          An immigration expert can help you understand the type of Scottish visa you qualify for and the eligibility requirements you must meet. They can provide you with support throughout the application process, helping you to ascertain and compile the necessary documents relevant to your visa type.

          You don’t need to apply for a visa alone. Support from a legal professional will make the process easier, simpler, and less confusing. Contact us at IAS at +1 844 290 6312 to access our support.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    The Scottish visa system is currently managed per the UK points-based system. An English visa shares a Scottish visa’s requirements, regulations, and rules. If you apply for a UK visa, you can live and work in Scotland.

                    To bring your family to Scotland, you must include them in your visa. They must undergo the visa application process separately before gaining permission to live and work in the UK. The same rules apply to children below the age of 18. The dependent visa is only available to those on a Tier 2 Visa or a permanent resident in the UK.

                    Here’s what you can expect to pay for a dependent visa for your child under 18 years old:

                    • To stay for 2 years and 6 months, it will be £1175
                    • To stay for 2 years and 9 months, it will be £1410
                    • To stay for 5 years, it will be £2350.