Irish citizens living in Scotland need clarity on their right to stay in Scotland following Brexit, the Scottish Government has said.
In a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said Irish residents of Scotland are “very concerned” about “mixed messages” on their post-Brexit status.
Calling again for charges for EU citizens to stay in the UK after Brexit to be scrapped, she raised concerns the £65 fee for signing up to the settlement scheme for adults and £32.50 for children could deter poorer families and the elderly from regularising their status.
In the letter, she said: “Our overriding concern has always been that EU citizens who came to Scotland to live, work, study and contribute to their communities should not be overly burdened when applying for a status they already have.
“I am clear that EU citizens should not have to pay a charge to retain the right to live and work in this country, especially children and young people.”
She said the process and cost of applying for settled status is causing “anxiety” for EU families here.
Ms Hyslop highlighted the large number of Irish citizens in Scotland and throughout the UK as of particular concern regarding the settlement scheme.
She said: “It is vital that clarity is provided for Irish citizens about what status they will have, what rights will be attached to that status, and what the impact will be, if any, of applying or failing to apply for settled status.
“In conversations we have been having with EU citizens around Scotland, a clear message is that Irish citizens are very anxious about the lack of detail available about their future rights and about the mixed messages they are getting about any obligation to apply for settled status.”
Ms Hyslop said Scotland’s future population growth depends on inward migration and any additional barriers to this, or to allowing migrants to stay, would be “damaging to Scotland’s future economic growth”.
She urged continued engagement between the governments on the issue.
Meanwhile, the SNP has called on new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab to give evidence before Holyrood’s Europe Committee on Brexit plans, something his predecessor David Davis did not do.