Readers' Letters: Home Office make it hard to work in Scotland

Last week there was a most interesting report on the demographic challenges facing Scotland with a declining birth rate and an ageing population. Already we can see the consequences, with the Scottish labour market experiencing serious shortages due to the drop in births and the draconian immigration policy of the UK government.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Tory government’s new Immigration laws are designed to discourage would-be applicants – unless, of course, they are highly qualified and well-off financially. For those not so favoured the difficulties are considerable. The problems currently being encountered by a young French acquaintance have genuinely shocked me. Our friend from Bordeaux has a university degree and is fluent in both spoken and written English. She is an artist and a musician. She came to Scotland to be with her partner, a qualified gardener with a long-established Edinburgh firm.

Our friend made her visa application some weeks ago in good faith, imagining that it would be a straightforward and speedy process. Having spent more than £3,000 working her way through the requirements, including the English test, she was told that the last stage was a face-to-face interview with a member of staff from the Home Office. For this she had to go to Manchester at her own expense.

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You can imagine her dismay to learn that her application has now been refused.

French fans are welcomed to Scotland for Six Nations games but they may find getting permission to work here less fun (Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

There are 12 pages in the refusal letter which lists 13 separate criteria for possible rejection. The letter is confusing and contradictory. Regular references are made to clauses in the Regulations (not provided). Three reasons for rejection really struck me.

Because her partner has worked for his present employer for fewer than 6 months his income cannot be taken into consideration.

Clearly our friend cannot produce evidence of the required £18,600 income because she is not allowed paid work without a visa.

Finally, for some bizarre reason her application was rejected because she “had not held a minimum of £62,500 for six months prior to the date of your application”. The letter concludes with the suggestion that she should return to France and that “it is reasonable to suggest your partner would be able…to find gainful employment in France”. So she can’t work here but apparently it’s OK for her partner to move to France to work!

Surely if there was a flaw in her application then this should have been pointed out at the start of the process, not at the end when so much time, emotion and money has been used up. With such harsh, complicated and costly regulations in place it is little wonder that the country has so many illegal immigrants.

I feel utterly ashamed that the UK, once respected for its humanitarian actions, should be treating people in this way. The sooner Scotland gets control of our own borders the better.

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh

Science shortfall

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It is indisputable that ever since the Treaty of Union scientific research in the UK has been world leading, and the contribution of Scots to it has been outstanding. I was trained in medical microbiology by someone who had been trained by Alexander Fleming at St Mary's Hospital in London, and I was mentored in virology by June Almeida, the discoverer of human coronaviruses, at St Thomas's Hospital. She had been brought up in a Glasgow tenement.

But it doesn't appear that any of Nicola Sturgeon's "scene setting" documents will consider science. What a deficit! But we have been here before. The 2013 prospectus for independence, “Scotland's Future”, which allegedly she masterminded, devoted only five of its 649 pages to scientific research, proposing unrealistically that an independent Scotland should remain in the UK funding system.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Victimhood

I noticed a surprising headline in Tuesday's Scotsman, saying “Sturgeon starts new drive to leave the UK”. Did I miss something? I feel a bit like Rip van Winkle, waking up after 20 years, except that, unlike van Winkle, nothing has changed. The last time I looked, Ms Sturgeon was banging on about a second independence referendum, having lost the one that was supposed to decide the issue. I do hope she will forgive me for telling her that it did.

Scotland suffers from many things, most, if not all of which also afflict the UK. The greatest of these, however, is the SNP, an organisation which exists purely as a gurn about the UK, which is an expression of the inferiority complex some Scots suffer from. This arises purely because of ignorance about ourselves, which is encouraged by the sort of nonsense Education Scotland offer to our children supposedly showing how the UK makes us into some sort outlying, peripheral “land lost in the mists of time”.

The SNP encourage this sort of powerlessness as an expression of national identity. Scots historically bestrode the world, using the UK as the vehicle. We were the drivers, but we have lost our way since the end of the Sixties. The SNP and Ms Sturgeon encourage a culture of victimhood in us, which is ill-placed.

Many Scots leave Scotland to be successful elsewhere, like Sean Connery, and Brian Cox.

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Many are in England, or the USA. Why? Because people have not given up there. Scotland suffers because of the SNP's culture of free handouts and discouraging enterprise through high taxes and whines of "it wisnae us". The SNP are the problem, not the solution!

John Fraser. Glasgow

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This was not about Scotland’s future, it was about Nicola Sturgeon’s - Murdo Fra...

My generation

Apart from the fact the SNP has won numerous mandates for a second independence referendum and that there is a sizeable democratic majority in the Scottish Parliament, opponents of Scotland’s right to choose self-determination need to explain why we should be beholden to or trust a London Tory government that ignores international law with impunity. The 1998 Northern Ireland Act also reduced the minimum period between “once in a generation” border polls from ten to seven years.

Unionists have failed to address the key argument as to why similar sized independent nations in northern Europe all have much fairer and cohesive societies with higher standards of living than the UK, which is the most unequal country in Europe.

Also, those in favour of remaining in a broken Britain need to be challenged on why Scotland would be liable for a share of a UK national debt run up by successive Westminster governments, without a pro rata share of the UK’s assets.

Under the SNP, with limited economic powers and the requirement to balance the books every year, Scotland has the best performing public services, including health and education, with the fairest welfare policies and the most progressive taxes in the UK.

In a cost of living crisis with years of UK austerity and falling living standards, now is the ideal time to raise our horizons. If Malta and Iceland, without Scotland’s vast resources, can prosper by standing on their own two feet, why not Scotland as we would be one of the richest countries in the world?

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Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Bad timing

Irrespective of whether we believe in Independence for Scotland or not, Nicola Sturgeon’s timing in pushing for a referendum now is ghastly and appalling. Russian president Vladimi r Putin and his cronies will be raising a glass and toasting her very good health, as, at this perilous time for the world, she gives another useful token for him to hold up as demonstrating a lack of unity in the Western World.

So the outward looking Scotland we have been promised, doesn’t extend to Ukraine.

Ian N Steele, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries & Galloway

Go it alone

The Sotsman’s Leader article of 15 June omits two reasons for the restoration of Scottish independence.

First, Scotland’s interests will never be Westminster’s priority, regardless of which party is in charge. Our 59 MPs will always be outvoted by 533 English MPs. This democratic deficit is why we are always ignored. In 2014 all three parties – Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat – vowed that if we voted to remain in the UK not only would we have a better Scotland but it was also the only way we could remain in the EU.

Second, the nationalism Scotland is subjected to is English nationalism. It’s why we were ejected from the Single Market despite our overwhelming vote to remain. An article in The Economist stated: “English nationalism is the most disruptive force in British politics. Brexit would have been impossible without it.”

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Brexit was the wrong answer to the right question – why aren’t things better than they are? English nationalism’s answer was, it’s the EU’s fault. Scotland’s answer is more honest – it’s no longer in our interests to remain in this economic and political union. Scotland benefited from the Empire. It kept the Union together. But the Empire is gone. We can do better on our own, controlling our resources, economy, foreign relations and defence, while remaining a good neighbour to England.

Scottish independence may have a silver lining for England. It could revive England’s flagging democracy by motivating it to finally have a written constitution, a more representative voting system and a respect for and adherence to the rule of law.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Border cross

How many roads does Nicola Sturgeon think cross from Scotland to England?There are at least four in the south east B orders alone? Is she going to put staffed stations that are open 24/7 on every road, with the problem of finding the staff to do this, probably at a minimum of £30,000 a time – not forgetting the security to keep these people safe?

Robert D Fleming, Chirnside, Duns, Scottish Borders

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