Immigration in an independent Scotland
27 May 2014
At present, Scotland uses the same immigration system as the rest of the UK. However, if Scotland becomes an independent country following the referendum later this year, the Scottish Government would develop a different immigration system.
On 18th September this year, 4.1 million Scottish residents will be asked to vote whether Scotland should be an independent country. One of the arguments for Scotland’s independence is that the country would be able to develop a system of immigration and citizenship that better meets Scotland’s needs and encourages people to study, live and work in the country.
Outline plans indicate that the new system would be points based and "targeted at particular Scottish needs". As an example, there are plans to provide incentives to migrants who move to live and work in remoter geographical areas, as this would assist with community sustainability and develop the workforce’s skillset.
According to Yes Scotland (the all-party and no-party campaign for a Yes vote), Scottish universities claim that current restrictions on student visas are "harming their ability to recruit and retain the brightest students and academics from around the world." The Scottish Government would re-introduce certain student visas that have been removed by the UK Home Office, which would encourage people to further their education in Scotland and would provide vital income for the country’s educational institutions. For example, there are plans to re-introduce the post-study work visa that was abolished in April 2012, as this would help retain talented graduates as part of the Scottish workforce.
The latest projections indicate that Scotland’s workforce "will not grow as rapidly as the UK as a whole". With this in mind, and with a focus on developing the country’s working age population and strengthening its economy, the Scottish Government would lower the current financial maintenance thresholds and minimum salary levels for entry, better aligning them with average wages and the cost of living in Scotland. This approach is also intended to "attract international talent at a level that would support high growth companies to develop and grow".
Scotland would remain in the current Common Travel Area with the rest of the UK and Ireland, so there would be no border checks when travelling between England and Scotland. As a full member of the EU, Scotland would "remain open to EU nationals… just as Scots are free now to move through the EU."
It is clear that the immigration system proposed for an independent Scotland recognises the contributions that immigrant workers and students can make to educational institutions, businesses, communities and economies. Overall, the proposed system aims to be "fair, robust and secure".
To read more about the proposed immigration system in an independent Scotland, click here
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