'Non Scottish-domiciled students' refers to anyone studying in Scotland, but whose home address in outside Scotland. We advise that you contact the relevant student funding agency in your home country for information about funding your education, or the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) for more information.

Changes to the immigration system will affect overseas students

The UK is introducing a points-based immigration system, that will take effect from 1 January 2021.

This will affect all citizens from outside the UK and Ireland, who will need to obtain visas to study and work in Scotland.

If you are a student planning on coming to study in Scotland, or are in Scotland now, it is essential you are aware of how changes to the immigration system will impact you.

We advise that you keep up to date with policy, guidance and new legislation on the UK Government website.

Current position until 31 December 2020

Until the new immigration system comes into force on 1 January 2021, the existing system will apply.

Currently, foreign students may need to apply for a Tier 4 visa.

It is important to be aware of your change in status after you have completed the LLB and Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, when you commence your traineeship. If you currently hold/ have held a Tier 4 visa for studying, when you undertake the traineeship and then work as a solicitor, you will need to apply for a Tier 2 visa.

Currently, the salary threshold to sponsor a Tier 2 visa for a trainee/solicitor is £24,000, which is significantly more than a first year trainee’s recommended salary. This earning threshold set by the UK Government may be subject to change and the trainee recommended salary is reviewed by the Law Society of Scotland on an annual basis.

Why is having to obtain a visa particularly relevant for international students wanting to qualify as solicitors in Scotland?

If you want to become a Scottish solicitor, you must complete the full route to qualification in Scotland. As this includes the traineeship, which is a period of work-based learning, you will need to obtain a working visa to remain in Scotland. This is a different process to applying for a student visa.

It is important to know the salary threshold that you need to meet in order to obtain a visa for your traineeship. Trainee salaries may not often meet this salary threshold. Therefore, we advise that international students exercise caution when applying for the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice unless you already have a traineeship secured.

The Diploma in Professional Legal Practice is a qualification designed specifically for those who will qualify as Scottish solicitors and it may not be recognised as forming the route to qualification in another jurisdiction.

The LLB in Scots Law may also not be recognised as forming the route to qualification as a solicitor in other jurisdictions, however a lot of students (around 50%) do choose to study the LLB and choose to pursue a different career.

As visa requirements are changing on 1 January 2021, we advise all overseas students keep updated with guidance available on the UK Government website.

Rest of UK (rUK) students

You need to ensure that you are satisfied that you are able to access funding for your education and you understand what you will be eligible for at each stage of your education.

rUK students will be required to pay the relevant tuition fees at universities and may be eligible to receive loans or alternative financial support from their local funding bodies for the LLB. For the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, rUK students may not be entitled to receive any financial assistance from their local funding body. It is essential that rUK students fully understand their financial situation before undertaking the route to qualifying as a Scottish solicitor. 

For further information, we recommend that you use the UK Government website to identify your eligibility for financial support.