Immigration in Scotland

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP's practice has corporate and business immigration at its core, but also handles personal visa applications. With a strong presence in Aberdeen, the team is well placed to advise oil and gas sector clients on offshore scenarios, while other energy companies are also among the clients alongside financial services and technology sector players. Typical instructions range from post-Brexit transfers of EEA national workers and other overseas recruitment issues to sponsor licences and skilled worker visas. The team was significantly boosted by the recent acquisition of highly-rated boutique McGill & Co, led by Grace McGill, who now leads the practice. Her team has joined forces with the existing group of specialists at Burness, which includes Jamie Kerr, whose expertise extends to immigration issues faced by inward investors, sportspeople and religious workers, and senior associate Nikki Weir who also handles family migration matters.

Practice head(s):

Grace McGill

Other key lawyers:

Jamie Kerr; Ronald Mackay; Nikki Weir


‘I have found everyone to be very professional, approachable and very responsive. Billing department are flexible with payments if required.’

‘The team is extremely credible – the information and advice provided by them is clear and easy to understand. Makes the whole process less stressful.’

‘Jamie Kerr and Nikki Weir are the individuals within Burness Paull that I have dealt with. My experience with them has always been outstanding.’

Jamie Kerr with his vast knowledge and experience of the immigration laws is second to none and it shows by the way things are explained and is exactly the confidence one would like to see when receiving complicated but critical advice.

Nikki Weir is very thorough, organised and detail-oriented. Easy to work with and goes above and beyond by keeping you up-to-date with information and sharing insights. This keeps the whole process free of any anxiety.

‘Nikki Weir is always available to talk to. She has been realistic, honest and empathetic to our complex situation.’

‘Grace McGill embodies effectiveness and poise. She is also – and this is extremely important – a really personable solicitor. She makes difficult things seem easy and she is an expert at de-stressing stressful endeavours.’

‘Grace McGill is outstanding – an expert in international family law aspects of immigration. She is calm, measured and composed in her advice and delivery.’

Key clients

Maersk Drilling UK Limited

User Testing Limited

Principle Power Inc

Hey Summit Ltd

SSE plc

Bluegem Capital Partners LLP

Work highlights

  • Advised the London based tech start-up Hey Summit UK Ltd on international recruitment to support very rapid growth and supported the client in sponsor licence applications.
  • Advised Principle Power Inc on post-Brexit migration issues, including on the EU Settlement Scheme, Frontier Worker Scheme, permitted business activities for visitors and sponsor licence.
  • Working closely with the UK arm of global tech business User Testing Ltd to transfer technical and support staff to the UK.

Drummond Miller LLP

Drummond Miller LLP is a respected player in the market, providing wide-ranging advice on personal and business immigration alongside nationality law with particular strength in the first-mentioned segment which also constitutes Janey Armstrong's key focus; she heads up the Glasgow team, while David Brown leads the overall practice from Edinburgh and advises clients on the full spectrum of immigration, nationality, human rights and EU law. As another key member of the team, Humphrey Ndubuisi is noted for his immigration litigation expertise.

Practice head(s):

David Brown

Other key lawyers:

Janey Armstrong; Humphrey Ndubuisi


‘I have been very impressed by team’s people and mission-oriented practice. The team is very supportive. They are friendly and able to make complex legal provisions readily understandable to a no- legally qualified audience.’

‘Jenny Armstrong stands out due to her deep understanding of client needs and her communication skills.’

David Brown is approachable and gives clear, straightforward, practical advice.

‘The team has the ability to understand complex legal issues, but also to understand lived experience of vulnerable clients; the firm has a range of solicitors who collectively probably have greater experience of representing EU citizens in immigration and other citizens’ rights issues than any other firm in Scotland. They also have a genuine commitment to corporate social responsibility.’

‘The premier petitioner-side immigration firm in Scotland. Well resourced and highly professional. Excellent knowledge of Court of Session and tribunal practice/procedure.’

‘Humphrey Ndubuisi has a deep knowledge of immigration law and practice, as well as a very good way with clients.’

‘The team is always reliable; an ever-present in the Scottish immigration world, they get the job done, without unnecessary fanfare. The firm I would instruct if I had an immigration problem.’

‘David Brown is always a font of knowledge on the immigration rules and their practical application.

Morton Fraser

Acclaimed for its proficiency in business immigration, while also handling applications for private clients, Morton Fraser has a strong profile for Tier 2 sponsor licence suspension and revocation issues and continues to advise on Brexit-related immigration and, more recently, Covid-19 matters. Public sector organisations in particular retain the team to advise on the staffing implications of Brexit, while, in the private sector, the group is noted for its expertise acting for relocation companies. Other clients include an increasing number of digital technology companies, religious sector and sports bodies alongside financial services sector players, who also benefit from the team's immigration compliance audit service to avoid enforcement actions and right to work fines. Stuart McWilliams heads up the team and, while handling all aspects of UK immigration and nationality law, is particularly well versed in business immigration.

Practice head(s):

Stuart McWilliams


‘What is especially impressive about this legal practice is their rapid response to queries and their effective resolution of seeming difficulties. They are innovative and able to suggest different approaches to both problem resolution and, if required, funding alternatives. They shine because of two words – they deliver.’

‘Stuart McWilliams is an outstanding member of Morton Fraser. He brings two assets to a client: a deep understanding of his chosen specialisation and a calm, reassuring demeanour.’

‘Stuart McWilliams provides a very reassuring, high level of support.’

‘An approachable, knowledgeable and responsive team.’

‘Stuart McWilliams is very approachable and knowledgeable in his subject area. He has help demystify the process of applying for settled and pre-settled status to a broad range of employees within my organisation. He does not use ‘legal terminology’ but uses plan English, which is much appreciated.’

‘The team gives consistently high-quality advice in a very timely manner and is very easy to deal with, goes the extra mile to help and answer queries.’

‘They understand our business and operating environments and are able to give relevant and practical advice.’

‘Our immigration support team at Morton Fraser is fantastic! They are proactive in sharing their insights. Morton Fraser also introduced a new secure mail system for transferring confidential documents between them and our visa applicants.’

Key clients

Current Health Limited

Copylab Limited

Airts Consulting Limited

NHS Lothian

Dukosi Limited

Quest Corporate Limited

Skyscanner Limited

Altair Global Services LLC

Cambridge Healthcare Research Limited

Axis Productions Limted

Work highlights

  • Carried out a virtual audit of a digital technology company, identifying some historic issues that could have negative implications for its sponsor licence; identified defences to the potential issues which allowed the client to maintain its sponsor licence.
  • Instructed by a British national living abroad who wanted to claim British nationality for his son. As the client was the second generation born, he would not normally be able to pass citizenship to his son but the team was able to identify an exception to the normal rules based on the client’s father’s employment within the Royal Navy.
  • Advised a key Skyscanner employee on the various visa options and Covid-19 concessions to allow him to begin work during the time visa centres were operating at reduced capacity.

Brodies LLP

Working in close conjunction with its employment team, Brodies LLP is well placed to provide business immigration advice on sponsor licence applications, employee transfers and the points-based immigration system, while, benefiting from the firm's private client offering, its expertise also includes immigration issues for high-net-worth individuals. Elaine McIlroy heads up the team.

Practice head(s):

Elaine McIlroy

Other key lawyers:

Lynne Marr

Key clients

Scottish Enterprise (TalentScotland)

Queen Margaret University


Sykes Global Services Limited

University of Edinburgh

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Work highlights

  • Won a panel appointment in 2020 for TalentScotland (part of Scottish Enterprise); immigration services provided have included matters relating to inward investors coming to Scotland to set up a technology business, information and guidance to Ukranian nationals wanting to set up a business in Edinburgh, assisting with sponsor licence applications and numerous sponsorship and visa applications under the points-based immigration system.
  • Advised a multinational food business on the Tier 2 sponsorship process and compliance issues associated with its sponsor licence.
  • Advised an oil and gas sector client on the new points-based immigration system and frontier worker permits.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn boosted its immigration offering with the arrival of associate John Vassiliou from McGill & Co in March 2021; he brings particular expertise in British citizenship and ancestry matters alongside international adoption. Led by Jacqueline Moore, who has particular education sector expertise, the team covers a broad spectrum of work, with a focus on business immigration. Regular matters in this space include advice on the points-based immigration system, skilled worker visas and sponsor licences, while individuals also receive wide-ranging visa, settlement and citizenship support.

Practice head(s):

Jacqueline Moore

Other key lawyers:

John Vassiliou


‘Very supportive in working as a team with first-rate IT and document support allied to strong technical knowledge of the ever changing immigration scene.’

‘Jacqueline Moore has a huge bank of knowledge of the immigration system, probably unrivalled in the Scottish commercial immigration scene. She is incredibly hard-working and focussed on securing the optimum result for her client. She is also a very tough litigator who leaves no stone unturned.’

‘The immigration team has always been incredibly helpful, responding quickly and walking us through the immigration processes with the ability to explain it in layman’s terms’

‘I am a huge fan of Jacqueline Moore – she never fails to be reassuring in stressful situations and is always able to calm employees down when they are concerned about the visa process. She has a wealth of knowledge and explains each detail clearly, so you come away with a full understanding of the situation.’

Key clients

The University of Glasgow

The University of Aberdeen

The University of Edinburgh

Epic Games


Delonex Energy

Work highlights

  • Providing regular support to the HR teams of the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen; recently, this included advice on the new points-based immigration system, the EU Settlement Scheme and Covid-19-related issues.
  • Provided transactional support to Epic Games, advising on immigration law issues, most notably on sponsor licences, arising from multimillion-pound deals.
  • Advising various sponsor licence holders on the impact of Covid-19 travel restrictions and Brexit.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern receives a steady flow of mandates from public and higher education sector clients in particular, but also acts for large companies and SMEs requiring assistance with Brexit and sponsorship licence concerns. Individuals receive support with visa applications and extensions. Employment law specialist Paul Brown is the main contact and focuses on business immigration.

Practice head(s):

Paul Brown

Key clients

Edinburgh Napier University

Priority Drilling Co Ltd

Glasgow Caledonian University

The Consul General of Spain, Edinburgh

University of Strathclyde

NCTech Limited

Audit Scotland

University of the West of Scotland

Midlothian Council

Noble Nordmann Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the University of Strathclyde on matters arising from academic staff working for the university but located in various countries and unable to relocate to the UK due to Covid -19 restrictions as well as on staff working on a part-time basis with the university whilst working for other organisations and only occasionally coming to the UK to work at the university premises.
  • Advised Priority Drilling Company on the impact of Brexit but also on obtaining frontier worker status for employees enabling them to continue to carry out work in the UK, notwithstanding their EU nationals status.
  • Advised Ineos Chemicals Grangemouth Limited on its obligations under Tier 2 of the immigration regime and the requirements for the sponsorship licence in recruiting employees from abroad as well as settled and pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.