The Scottish National Party is aiming to reintroduce the visa scheme that allowed overseas students to work in Scotland for two years after completing their studies.
The Tier 1 (Post-study Work) visa was removed three years ago by the British Government in Westminster. But the Scottish Parliament wants to bring it back within Scotland.
Since the scheme was abolished, the number of Indian students choosing to study at UK universities has fallen by half.
The Scottish Government is concerned this development will lead to a skills shortage in its ageing population. It is looking to overseas students to fill the roles of engineers, health care and skilled oil and gas sector employees.
Scotland's international development minister Humza Yousaf said: “Scotland needs immigration. It needs bright students from India to come and study in its 19 world class universities and then stay back and work to help develop its economy.”
Scotland was at the forefront of the development of the Tier 1 (Post-study Work) visa, via the Fresh Talent Working in Scotland Scheme visa. Introduced in Glasgow in 2006, it allowed foreign students to remain in Scotland to work for two years after graduation. In 2008, the scheme became part of the UK-wide Post-study Work visa.
Mr Yousaf said talks would be held with the UK Government to reintroduce the visa within Scotland.
He added: “I am confident that Westminster will understand Scotland's needs. However if they refuse, we will have to look at re-introducing the Fresh Talent Working in Scotland Scheme visa.”
A cross-party working group of Scottish politicians, industrialists and academics are now drawing up plans for a new Scottish post-study work scheme. If reintroduced, it would only be applicable to overseas students studying at Scottish universities who wish to remain in Scotland to work on completion of their course.