Scotland should get its own ‘distinct’ immigration rules under new pilot

Holyrood's immigration minister said a tailored approach to immigration should be considered
Holyrood's immigration minister said a tailored approach to immigration should be considered
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The Scottish Government has formally proposed “piloting” a distinct system of immigration north of the Border.

Holyrood’s immigration minister Ben Macpherson has written to his UK counterpart ahead of a summit on the issue later this month amid growing concerns that Scotland will suffer under a post-Brexit crackdown.

In the letter to the Minister of State for Immigration Caroline Nokes, Mr Macpherson said a tailored approach to immigration should be considered.

He said: “A declaratory system, avoiding the need to make an application and removing the threat of refusal except in the most extreme circumstances would best protect the rights of EU citizens living here.”

The call comes after the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said a tailored migration policy for different parts of the UK should be taken forward.

A four-nations roundtable meeting on migration will see the Holyrood minister and Ms Noakes joined by the Welsh Government’s Brexit minister Jeremy Miles and the head of Northern Ireland’s Civil Service David Sterling.

“Given the significance of the matter to Scotland, I would also like to discuss how we can work together to deliver the regional immigration pilot projects the MAC recommended in their most recent report, which was a welcome acknowledgement of the need for tailored migration policy for different parts of the country,” his letter states.

Mr Macpherson has also renewed concerns over the proposed salary threshold of £30,000 for EU workers, which he claimed would have a “catastrophic” effect on the economy of Scotland. The country is facing a population shortfall of 500,000 and immigration is seen as vital for the future. Mr Macpherson is also seeking details on the timescale for introducing the planned new immigration system, the UK Government’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit scenario and for updates on the status of EU students in the country.

Issues potentially raised by the EU settlement scheme were also noted by Mr Macpherson, who said there was little detail that had been provided about the process for frontier workers to apply for a document to certify their rights. “I would welcome a discussion on amending the current EU Settlement Scheme from a constitutive to a declarative system,” he said.

“The Scottish Government believes that EU citizens should not need to apply to maintain the rights they already have.”