The First Minister stepped up the pressure on Theresa May to allow a second referendum to be staged during a keynote speech at Stanford University in California on Tuesday.
Ms Sturgeon argued in favour of immigration and free trade, insisting the EU has built a single market and encouraged protections for workers.
“Brexit poses a fundamental question for Scotland,” Ms Sturgeon added.
“Do we remain as we are, facing exit against our will from largest trading block in the world, at the hand of a UK government prioritising curbs on immigration above all else? Or do we become an independent country – with the opportunities and challenges that entails – and with the freedom to be an equal partner with the other nations of the UK and Europe and with countries across the world?
“My own view, as a supporter of independence, is that we will choose the second course. Independence, combined with equal partnership, is the best way for us to build a fairer society at home and to make a positive contribution to the world.”
“However that is something which will be debated and discussed across Scotland as we move forward. The immediate point that the UK Government must recognise, is that the people of Scotland have the right to make that choice.”
Ms Sturgeon will give an address at the United Nations in New York later today on human rights and the role of women in peacekeeping.
But Tory chief whip John Lamont accused Ms Sturgeon of using the “taxpayer-funded trip” to the US to “promote independence, and an unwanted referendum.”
He said: “She may be representing the SNP in doing so - but she does not represent mainstream Scottish opinion. The First Minister has dumped the day job - and not content with pushing her divisive campaign for a second referendum on independence at home, it now appears it has gone global too.”