An independent Scotland would have a “fairer” approach to allowing the families of migrant workers to move to the country, the External Affairs minister said today.
Humza Yousaf said many immigrants are denied a “family life” under the current system and insisted Scotland would welcome immigrants to bolster “healthy population growth.”
The Coalition Government wants to cut immigration in the UK. It has prompted claims that different immigration polices between Scotland and the rest of the UK after independence would inevitably result in border controls.
Measures to encourage foreign students to stay in Scotland after graduating would be introduced after a Yes vote next year, along with initiatives to attract migrants to work in more remote areas which are suffering from de-population
Speaking ahead of International Migrants Day, Mr Yousaf said: “It’s important to celebrate the enormous contribution migrants have made – and will contine to make - to the Scottish economy, our culture and our society.
“Migration has been good for Scotland. We have different needs to the rest of the UK and healthy population growth is important for our economy.”
Mr Yousaf said the current system means many migrants don’t enjoy the family life that others “take for granted”, because their immediate relatives are not granted visa access.
“Many ordinary, hard-working people living in Scotland have felt the impact of the UK’s policies on family migration,” he added.
“Given the power to manage our own immigration, we would make sure that there was a fair and efficient system to manage family reunification effectively.”
The SNP Government’s white paper on independence, entitled Scotland’s Future, set out the Government’s proposals on independence, which would see the creation of a “controlled immigration system.”
A post-study work visa would be re-introduced to attract the best minds to Scotland. Incentives for migrants to live and work in remoter geographical areas are also earmarked to help develop industries, often where there are local skills shortages, and keep communities sustainable.
“Many Scots currently enjoy the benefits of free movement within Europe, and similarly we welcome European migrants who make Scotland their home,” the minister added.