Call for multi-stakeholder support for rural visa pilot


Scotland needs tailored migration solutions to meet the challenges of depopulation.

Constitutional Secretary Angus Robertson has called for cross-party support for the rural visa pilot proposal ahead of Tuesday’s parliamentary debate on population.

The Rural Visa Pilot Proposal offers a community-based approach to migration that can meet the distinct needs of remote, rural and island areas that are not met in the current UK government immigration system.

Scotland has its own immigration requirements, which are different from the rest of the UK, as any future population growth is expected to come from immigration. But if past trends continue, by 2045 Scotland will have a smaller and older population, with growth from migration no longer compensating for the widening gap between births and deaths.

Scotland is the only country in the UK where the population is set to fall over the next decade, after peaking at 5.48 million in 2028. Almost half of the country’s 32 local authorities will experience population decline over the next decade. of the same period, with the effect most acutely felt in many rural and island areas.

Mr. Robertson said:

“The UK Government must recognize the distinct demographic challenges we face in Scotland and work with the Scottish Government and our partners to provide tailored migration solutions that meet the needs of our communities, employers and economy.

“Population growth is an important driver of our economy and any projected decline in population is likely to have significant implications for public finances and the delivery of key public services, particularly in the more remote and rural areas of Scotland. . Many of these communities are already experiencing acute depopulation and labor market difficulties due to a deeply damaging Brexit and the end of freedom of movement, which has cut off a valuable and ready supply of workers to fill positions keys.

“The Scottish Government, working with local authorities and the business sector, has developed a rural visa pilot proposal which is designed to help meet the specific needs of some of Scotland’s remote and rural communities within the Scottish visa system. existing British immigration. We will be asking the UK Government to positively engage with us to present this proposal as a practical reform of the immigration system.


The Scottish People and Rural Visa pilot proposal will be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 27 September 2022.

The main statistics and projections come from: Population of Scotland 2021 – Registrar General’s Annual Review of Population Trends

The Minister’s Population Task Force, established in 2019, published Scotland’s first population strategy in 2021, A Scotland for the future: opportunities and challenges of Scotland’s changing population.

As part of the Department’s Population Task Force priority work to ensure a more balanced population in which all Scottish communities can thrive, the Scottish Government has committed to developing an action plan to tackle the depopulation.

The Scottish Government will also launch a talent attraction and migration service in 2023 to help migrants and Scottish-based employers settle here.


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