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What will independence mean for immigration in Scotland?

Independence will enable Scotland to build a fair, robust and secure immigration system that meets our own social, economic and demographic needs.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will an independent Scotland’s policy be on immigration? How will it be different from the rest of the UK?

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.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

I am living in Scotland on a UK visa, what would happen to me at day one of independence? Would I need to get a Scottish visa straight away?

All those legally in Scotland at independence will be able to remain in Scotland under the terms of their existing visa or entry. When their visa expires they will be expected to leave Scotland (and the rest of the UK) or apply for a new visa or extension under Scottish immigration rules.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Do you know how many immigrants would come to Scotland after independence and how would Scotland control this?

Would there be a cap on the number of migrants who can come to Scotland? We plan that an independent Scotland will introduce a controlled immigration system to meet our own economic, social and demographic priorities and needs. Each individual who wishes to come to Scotland to work, study or live will have to meet a set of reasonable and fair requirements to gain entry or approval to remain in Scotland. If there are higher than required numbers of non-European Economic Area/Swiss migrants entering Scotland, then this can be addressed through the points-based system using targeted changes, rather than a cap.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Is there a danger that those who have been denied permission to stay in the rest of the UK because of their stricter policies would move to Scotland?

Under our proposals for independence, Scotland will operate its own visa system. Therefore anyone who is subject to immigration controls and denied permission to stay in the rest of the UK will have to apply for a visa to enter Scotland and their application would be assessed under Scottish immigration rules. They would have no automatic right to move to Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Do immigrants put a strain on public services?

Evidence suggests that migrants overwhelmingly pay their way in terms of public services and make a positive financial contribution.

The Scottish Government’s policies are designed to ensure an appropriate level of immigration based on economic needs.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will an independent Scotland’s policy on immigration impact on the diversity of Scotland as a nation?

Scotland values our diverse ethnic minority communities, the contribution they make and the important role they play in enriching Scotland socially, culturally and economically. Healthy population growth is essential for Scotland’s economy. The main contributor to our population growth is from migrants who choose to make Scotland their home.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will increased immigration break down community cohesion?

No. Scotland is already a welcoming society that is stronger for being a culturally rich and diverse nation and will continue to be so.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will immigration rules at ports be enforced in an independent Scotland?

Under our proposals, criminal activity at ports of entry to Scotland, whether it is related to immigration, customs offences or organised crime will be dealt with in a timely and appropriate fashion by a Scottish Borders and Migration Service. Due process will be followed to detect, investigate and deal with all criminal and immigration matters at ports of entry.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.