What will an independent Scotland’s policy be on immigration? How will it be different from the rest of the UK?
Answer: Scotland’s differing demographic and migration needs mean that the current UK immigration system has not supported Scotland’s migration priorities. The current Westminster approach is strongly focused on reducing the overall numbers of migrants and introducing number caps for certain categories of skilled individuals.
With independence, each of these decisions would, in future, be for Scottish governments, with policy choices taken on the basis of Scotland’s needs and priorities.
For non-EU nationals, independence will enable us to develop and operate a controlled, transparent and efficient immigration system that best meets Scotland’s needs and supports our future growth. The current Scottish Government will take forward a points-based approach targeted at particular Scottish needs.
A particular issue for Scotland is the post-study work visa. There are more than 45,000 international students from every corner of the world studying in Scotland, bringing important investment, diversity and welcome expertise to Scotland. The current Scottish Government plans to reintroduce the post-study work visa.
We plan also to lower the current financial maintenance thresholds and minimum salary levels for entry to better align them with Scottish average wages and cost of living. This will open up greater opportunities for key skilled individuals from overseas who could play important roles in our society and economy, filling vital vacancies in individual businesses.
Our detailed proposals on immigration are set out in Chapter 7.