ANGUS Robertson has demanded a meeting with James Cleverly to raise concerns about the Home Office’s visa process for artists and creatives coming to Scotland.

It comes after award-winning Moroccan poet Soukaina Habiballah’s visa was denied by the Home Office ahead of her appearance at an international poetry festival in St Andrews. The visa was eventually granted following backlash over the initial decision.

Last week, US rapper Ja Rule, who had been due to play Glasgow’s Hydro as part of a UK tour, was also denied entry by the Home Office.

Now, Robertson has written a letter to the Home Secretary calling for an urgent meeting to discuss these “pressing issues”.

In a post on Twitter/X, he said that Scottish festivals and cultural events are "let down by the UK Home Office".

“The contribution made by international artists is central to the success of our festivals and other cultural events,” Scotland’s Culture Secretary wrote.

“And the presence of international artists is key in building more vibrant and diverse culture and creative sectors.”

Robertson added that he is “increasingly concerned” that the Home Office's procedures for processing visa applications are having a “negative impact” on international artists and creative professionals being able to contribute to Scotland’s cultural events.

READ MORE: Scots poet Len Pennie's first collection becomes bestseller

“Each year we hear examples of creative professionals having their work disrupted or delayed, and festivals and events facing challenges programming international performers due to delays with the UK visa process,” he said. 

“Approaches to immigration can often lead to discriminatory outcomes for people from minority ethnic backgrounds through combinations of post-colonial legacies, unconscious and conscious bias, and systemic or institutional racism. Stakeholders have repeatedly raised their concerns of this worrying trend and its impact on our culture sector.”

Robertson named Habiballah’s case by name, saying it raises “serious questions about the reliability and timeliness of the decisions being made by the Home Office” as well as the “suitability of the visa routes available to them within the UK immigration system”. 

He added: “I'm sure that you will agree that such unnecessary barriers to creative professionals coming to the UK to participate in cultural events are detrimental not just to international artists, but to our culture and creative sectors themselves.”