The Government has confirmed there are “no plans” to reintroduce the post-study UK visa, which allowed non-EU overseas students to remain in Britain to work after completing their courses.
The visas were removed by the Government in 2012 as part of its efforts to tighten restrictions on non-EU nationals working in the UK and bring down the net migration figures.
Scottish MSPs from across the political divide have supported a campaign by the Scottish Government to reintroduce the post-study visa. However, Scottish Secretary David Mundell made a written statement to Parliament which said there was “no intention” of bringing back the visas in Scotland.
MSPS have now written to Immigration Minister James Brokenshire over the issue. They expressed their “surprise and disappointment” at the decision.
Scottish International Development Minister, Humza Yousaf, said that the announcement is against the spirit of the Smith Commission, which had suggested the Scottish Government would be given the powers to reintroduce the visa north of the Border.
Mr Yousaf told the BBC that Mr Brokenshire should meet the cross-party steering group, of which Mr Yousaf is chair, “as a matter of urgency”.
He added: “Representatives from across political parties, from academia, from businesses and from the trade union sector have expressed their surprise and disappointment at the apparent decision of the UK Government to rule out a return of the post study work visa with no substantive consultation with either the Scottish Government or major stakeholders.”
He said that Scotland has different immigration needs to other parts of the UK, and the Westminster Government was ignoring both this and the best interests of Scotland by refusing to allow Scotland to reinstitute the visa.
The Home Office said that the post-study visa had “undermined the UK’s work migration routes” and had “damaged the reputation” of the education system.