How to Relocate to Scotland
Recently we’ve been getting asked a lot about how to move to Scotland to live so we thought we’d put together a bit of a helpful guide. Maybe the pipes are calling you home?
Scotland compared with other places does not have many people – we only have around 5.5 million people and about 70% of these people live in the central belt and the lowlands. Glasgow has the highest population, followed by Edinburgh.
I have heard Edinburgh described as a ‘truly cosmopolitan town’ – this is a perfect description. It doesn’t feel like a city, and is a wonderful mix of people from different countries.
Unless you are moving from a very expensive city like New York the cost of living here is high. Our houses tend to be a lot smaller and have less space around them.
We are not that religious, and those who are tend to be very quiet about it. 30% of people here are church of scotland, 15% catholic, 5.5% other christian, 1.5% Islam. Around 36% of Scotland say they have no religion.
Move for the right reasons – Scotland is not Kilted Celtic Pirates
There is a bizarre image that gets portrayed of Scotland. Attending games in the US we see this a lot – the celtic kilted pirate. Seeing the skull and cross bones flag flying next to the saltire is a confusing one, buxom women in basques and gents with kilts and pirate sabres. Bit of a confused mixture of Walt Disney, Willam Wallace – Mel Gibson version and Captain Jack Sparrow.
Scotland is not like this so would be a bit of a shock for someone thinking it was.
So … still want to relocate – here’s some help
We should start by saying – the rules of visas change constantly so please check up. The number one rule with visas is you have to get these before you enter Scotland. Do not come to Scotland and try to apply for the correct visa. You’ll waste a lot of money
Applying for this visa is quite stressful and expensive but once it’s done that feeling must be amazing. It’s going to take at least 5 years of doing various visas and extensions to be able to apply for indefinite residency and become a citizen. Then you can officially get the accent 🙂
Now I will try and talk you through the different visas.
A basic vistors visa allows you to travel around Scotland and the UK for up to 6 months. You are not allowed to work on this visa and have to return home to apply for different visa.
No Visa for Retiring
Retiring to Scotland is understandably appealing. When I think of retiring – it’s on a Scottish island with a peat fire, maybe a bit of knitting. Sadly no actual retirement visas exists – this was stopped in 2008. You could only maybe come over as a dependant of a family member living in Scotland otherwise I don’t know how you can do it for longer than 6 months.
If you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country and have a grandparent who was born in the UK (this includes the Republic of Ireland if born before 1922 as it was then part of the UK), you can apply for a visa to live and work in Scotland and the rest of the UK. This visa lasts five years. For this visa you must have the intention to undertake work, as well as showing that you have enough money to support yourself in Scotland.
You do not need a job offer for an Ancestry Visa, just to prove that you are looking for work. You can come in on this visa if you’re studying full-time as long as you are also working part-time. An Ancestry Visa would allow you to study in the UK but you would have to pay the International fees. Remember you are not a citizen while on an Ancestry Visa – this has to be applied for afterwards.
To apply you need birth certificates for your UK born grandparent (it doesn’t have to be Scotland). Also funds – in your bank account you’ll need £1200 – £1600, 90 days prior to your date of application.
Dependants have to apply to join you from outside the UK.
Length of visa: 5 years
After visa: you can apply to extend or stay permanently. £811 – £1,311 to extend
Get a job offer – so invited to Scotland
These are looked at case by case.
An employer would normally sponsor the works visa. If single the employer needs to show that the job can not be offered to someone within the same country – how this person is uniquely qualified for this job that they have to bring them in from another country. If you have studied within the UK this can be easier. If not this is quite a hard process to go through.
If one person of a married couple from the US gets offered a job in Scotland you have to show that the job is the dominant job in the family (so highest paying). Then the spouse comes as a ‘dependant’. The dependant has to be granted the visa before coming to the UK.
No job offer – but are bringing a business to Scotland
For this you can apply for a Entrepreneur’s Visa. This is for people who want to set up or run a business in the UK. The big hurdle with this one is you need access to at least £50,000 investment funds to apply. It costs around 1.2k and you can only stay for 3 years and 4 months. After this you can apply for a 2 year extension. Like other visas after 5 years you can apply for indefinite settlement and become a citizen
Youth Mobility Scheme
If you come from certain countries, are aged between 18 and 30 and have £1,890 in savings, you may be eligible to apply for a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa. This visa will last for up to two years and will allow you to live and work in the UK during this time.
I want to invest in Scotland
If you are going to make an investment of £2,000,000 or more into Scotland, you can apply for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa.
Marrying a UK citizen
Firstly visas need to be applied for before leaving your country.
Applying for a visa before you are married.
A marriage visa only allows you to marry in Scotland not live there. A separate spouse visa needs to be applied for once married. A marriage visa allows you 6 months to get married. Then when you are married you get an allowance of 30 days to stay in Scotland. After that a spouse visa needs to be applied for – you will most likely have to return to your home country and apply for this there.
A marriage visa costs around £85
The spouse visa will allow you 2 1/2yrs residency in Scotland, you are applying “To join family living permanently in the UK” as a SPOUSE. You have to apply for this visa outside the UK. Then after the 2 1/2yrs you have to apply again (so 5 years in total) then you can apply for citizenship. Before this 5 year point it’s like a probationary period where you are not a citizen so have to cover health care and prove you can support yourself. It’s a 70 page form you need to fill in.
If you marry a UK citizen outside the UK and plan to live in the UK then the marriage has to be recognised within the UK.
You can not just marry in the UK without a visa.
You have to wait 5 years to get a Full UK Residency.
You have to answer various things – like how much your spouse earns and show bank accounts also have to do a 15 minute English test to show you know the language.
So there you have it – like most countries applying for residency is difficult but not impossible. With our impending exit from the EU there will be inevitable changes, the small matter of Scottish Independence is still a consideration, given that the Scottish government is more open to immigration than the UK as a whole (as a country we desperately need to build our young workforce to keep tax revenues flowing). It’s entirely possible that if Scotland became independent or if immigration became a devolved issue we could see a considerable change in these regulations. lets just see…
Scotland is an open, diverse, multicultural, and welcoming country. (in our opinion and experience) We welcome those who share these values…. just leave the cutlass and eyepatch at home 🙂