SNP MSP Richard Lochhead is calling on the Home Office to prioritise visas for teachers as a matter of urgency by including the entire teaching profession in the Tier 2 Visa ‘shortage occupation list.’  

Richard Lochhead MSP

This echoes calls from the TES #LetThemTeach campaign which launched following their investigation showing that international teachers are either being denied visas or forced to quit their jobs and leave the country at short notice because they cannot renew their visas.
A new report published by the Scottish Affairs Committee urges the UK Government to review the impact of the migration target on Scotland’s growth and to look at whether the current ‘shortage occupation list’ is meeting local needs, underlining the demographic challenges facing Scotland, such as a shrinking working-age population.

The Tier 2 Visa scheme, designed by Theresa May, refused a visa for Sìne Halfpenny, a Gaelic teacher from Nova Scotia who was the only candidate for a recent vacancy at Bunessan School on the Isle of Mull.

Local MP Brendan O’Hara reiterated:

“The wholly unreasonable and unnecessary delay in sourcing a Gaelic teacher for Bunessan was a direct result of immigration rules unfit for the needs of Scotland.  Argyll and Bute is particularly vulnerable.”

SNP MSP Richard Lochhead, who sits on Holyrood’s Education Committee, said:

“We need to be able to attract the best talent to Scottish schools, colleges and universities, and capping the number of much-needed qualified teaching professionals that are allowed to enter the UK is a completely self-defeating policy. 
“The Scottish Parliament backed calls for a differentiated approach to migration in Scotland earlier this year, and Scottish Government research also showed that the Tory Government’s immigration targets could cost the Scottish economy up to £10bn by 2040.
“The evidence is clear – the Home Office needs to scrap the Tier 2 visa cap on the number of teaching professionals that can enter the UK each year as a matter of urgency, and Scotland needs full control over immigration so that we can tailor an immigration policy that meets our social and economic needs.
“The Tories need to drop their anti-migrant obsession and drop it now.”


  • Government urged to consider impact of migration target on Scotland’s Growth – Scottish Affairs Committee report published 11/07/2018.
  • Information on the Tes ‘Let Them Teach’ campaign is available hereTes editor Ann Mroz has written a letter to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, and the home secretary, Sajid Javid, which has been signed by the leaders of England’s major teaching unions and is available  here.
  • Ann Mroz said: “Under the current salary-based system, teaching – as a modestly paid public sector occupation – is missing out in monthly visa allocations. To address this situation, we are calling on the government to support adding the whole profession to the shortage occupation list, which gives higher priority for visas. We believe that our international teaching colleagues – and our children – depend on it.”
  • The Tier 2 Visa system, designed by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, caps the number of highly-qualified workers from outside the European Union that are allowed to enter the UK at 20,700 per year.
  • Migration cut ‘could cost Scotland £10bn’
  • Anger over Canadian Gaelic teacher’s visa refusal
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