Scotland to lure non-EU migrants with tax and visa benefits

Tuesday 29th May 2018 13:03 EDT

Non-EU highly-skilled migrants or international students may finally be welcomed to the UK after Scottish government report proposes giving prospective immigrants financial incentives to move to Scotland, in a bid to boost the country’s economy and offset the consequences of Brexit.

The Sustainable Growth Commission, set up by the Scottish National Party (SNP) to assess the country’s economic prospects, suggested introducing a 'Come to Scotland' package that would include tax cuts for highly skilled migrants, according to a report by The Independent.

It would also see immigrants allowed to deduct the costs of their move from their income tax bill.

The Commission also said the Scottish government should aim to attract an additional 5,000 overseas graduates each year to stay in the country, including offering tax breaks to incentivise them to do so. This might be a welcoming news for the community after the number of Indian students and migrants settling in the UK halved over last 10 years, due to stringent visa system, scrapping of the Tier 1 (highly skilled migrant programme) and that of the Post-Study Work visa scheme.

The Commission, which was Chaired by the former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, said Scotland could become one of the most successful small economies in the world, with living standards that could “equal the best small countries in the world".

It further added attracting skilled migrants should be “one of the top priorities of Scottish Government economic policy”, with measures designed to offset the impact of Brexit and what it called the “UK Tory government's hostile approach to migration".

While the UK currently only offers permanent investor visas to people with at least £10m to invest, the commission said Scotland should consult on introducing a much lower cap, which would be set at £75,000. UK restrictions stating entrepreneurs should have at least £50,000 to invest in their business before moving to the EU should also be reformed in Scotland, it added.

The newspaper reported that Mr Wilson said: "It is a fact that those born outside the UK who have made Scotland home for their businesses, their research or their families are significant net contributors to our economy and public finances - we need more of this.

"We also need more people from across the UK to consider the benefits of living and working here.

"Our package is designed to attract people to Scotland to study and to stay here, to build a career and a fulfilling future for themselves.”

He added: "We have a great opportunity for Scotland to strike a completely different tone on a vitally important area of economic policy - how we attract talent to our country.

"Under current UK policy there is a real danger that the working population in Scotland could fall - meaning fewer people creating wealth, jobs and contributing to our NHS.”

"Growing our working population and, through it, our economy is perhaps the greatest national challenge we have - and is made even more urgent by Brexit and the threat it poses to our working-age population."

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