Foreign workers who travel to Scotland would be prevented from moving to other parts of the UK under plans for a new post-Brexit immigration system.
Migrants would be told they must live and work solely in Scotland as a “condition of entry” to the UK, according to proposals published by the Scottish Government on Wednesday.
A discussion paper on the issue says it is imperative that immigration levels do not fall dramatically after Brexit, warning that this could do huge damage to the nation’s economy.
It predicts that if the UK Government successfully cuts net migration to the tens of thousands, the cost to Scotland’s finances could be as high as £10bn a year by 2040.
The analysis also makes a number of suggestions about how a future Scottish immigration system might work, which would require the devolution of some new powers to Holyrood. Under the plans Scottish ministers would set the entry criteria for new migrants, which could include their salary level, education, skills, age or the ability to speak English.
Acknowledging that this could lead to fears in England that Scottish migrants could simply move south of the border after entering the UK, it proposes restrictions on residency.
Home Office control
“Whatever the nature of devolution or differentiation, a central feature of Scottish migration policy would be to restrict migrants to living in Scotland as a condition of entry for the duration of the time they are under immigration control,” the paper states.
“How a residence restriction is defined and enforced would need to be agreed with the UK Government, but there are existing frameworks…that could prove instructive and demonstrate the feasibility of such an approach.”
Under the proposals, the Home Office would retain overall control over the UK’s borders and immigration enforcement, with employers and public services responsible for checking Scottish migrants’ status and eligibility. Read more: Migration cuts would be ‘devastating’ for Scotland, says Nicola Sturgeon “Inward migration does not just bring economic benefits.
By welcoming people to live, work and study in Scotland we can strengthen our society and enrich our lives,” said Scotland’s External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop. “Migrants contribute to our economy by bringing new skills and fresh approaches. Without their contribution Scotland’s economic growth will suffer.
“There is now an overwhelmingly strong case for Scotland to have the power to tailor its own migration policy to reflect its own unique circumstances.”
Although there is general political agreement in Scotland that it is in the nation’s interests to retain existing immigration levels, opinion polls suggest that Scots are not in favour of having a separate system from the rest of the UK.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “After we leave the EU, we will put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the whole of the UK.
“Decisions about our future immigration system will be based on evidence, which is why we have asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee to assess the economic and social impact of EU citizens in all parts of the UK. “We are engaging with and considering the view of all stakeholders – including the Scottish Government and businesses in Scotland.”
This story first appeared on our sister site iNews.