Comments by Sanwar Ali:
Having different UK visa systems in different parts of the Country may not be such a bad idea. Different parts of the Country have different needs so it makes sense to have variations in the visa system. Other Countries have done this. Nicola Sturgeon the First Minister of Scotland and it seems many others are keen for this to happen.
Boris Johnson talks about the benefits of an “Australian style” points system. Well in Australia you have schemes such as the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa. Canada also has regional schemes including the Quebec skilled workers scheme. Surely to truly have an “Australian style points system” you need to have regional immigration schemes as well!
If Scotland does in future have a different UK visa system, to what extent will people use the system so that they will firstly go to Scotland in the hope of gaining entry to another part of the UK? In Australia, if you are on a skilled regional provisional visa you need to show that you have lived and worked in regional Australia, to be eligible to apply for permanent residence.
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has shot down cross-party campaigns for Scotland to have its own visa and immigration system. Calls for Scotland to take control of its own immigration into the country came following a poll conducted by cross-party, anti-Brexit group eu+me.
The poll asked Scots if they would back the country establishing its own visa and immigration system, the first of its kind in Scotland. According to the survey, 63.37% of Scots agreed on ‘having the ability to make different choices to the rest of the UK.’
However, nearly a fifth disagreed (19.97%), while 12.92% neither agreed nor disagreed and a further 3.75% said that they didn’t know. Not counting the ‘don’t knows’ and ‘no preferences’, 83% agreed while 17% disagreed, according to poll results.
The survey took place between the 9th and 16th of June.
UK immigration is for Westminster to control
In response to the poll, the Home Office warned that immigration is a ‘reserved matter for Westminster to manage and control.’
An official Home Office statement said: “We have been clear that the future immigration system must work for every nation, region and community in the UK. The Migration Advisory Committee has repeatedly advised that there is no economic justification for different immigration arrangements in different parts of the United Kingdom.”
However, the director of eu+me, Fergus Mutch disagreed saying: “With just five months remaining until free movement comes to an end, there’s real trepidation about what comes next and how we replace a system which has helped all EU nations to grow and flourish in recent decades.”
“We want European citizens to come here to live, work, study, enrich our communities and help our country prosper for many years to come,” Mutch added.
Frustrations grow over UK immigration
According to Mutch, there is a growing sense of frustration over the government’s approach to UK immigration, which ‘doesn’t work for Scotland’, Mutch claims.
Mutch argues that the post-Brexit UK immigration system risks doing permanent damage to the Scottish economy.
The eu+me director said: “More and more people believe we must have a tailored system which works in Scotland’s interests. Across the UK, there’s little resistance to Scotland having control of those powers. It’s the popular policy, the common-sense policy and the right policy.”
“With the power to set our own course on immigration, we can maintain alignment with the EU 27, keep the door open to the exchange of talent and expertise from Europe and, ultimately, make the process easier to be back in the EU before long,” Mutch added.
Independent expert advisory group
Calls for Scotland to have its own visa and immigration system have intensified over recent years. The Scottish government’s independent expert advisory group on migration and population has indicated that immigration to Scotland could be halved because of a proposed Tier 2 visa salary threshold, which will create staff shortages in several sectors.
The advisory group blasted Home Office post-Brexit visa rules, which require migrant workers to earn a minimum salary in some cases of £25,600 a year to secure employment and visa in the UK.
Minister for Migration in Scotland, Ben Macpherson MSP, said: “This independent report shows that UK immigration policy is still failing to address Scotland’s distinct demographic and economic needs.”
“With just over six months until freedom of movement with the EU ends, and as we face the biggest economic crisis in decades, we urge the UK Government to pause and reconsider their plans,” Macpherson added.
Mr Macpherson argues that simply ignoring the challenges Scotland will face as a result of reduced migration is ‘deeply irresponsible and costly’.
Macpherson urged Westminster to consult with devolved administrations and industry bodies, and tailor its approach to create a system that acknowledges and meets the unique needs of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
UK poll backs Scottish immigration system
In a similar poll of 1,022 people, conducted by eu+me across the wider UK on the 9th and 10th of June, the results showed that many backed Scotland having its own visa and immigration system.
According to the UK survey, almost half (44%) supported Scotland setting its own visa and immigration policies, while 29% disagreed. Nearly a quarter (24%) neither agreed nor disagreed, while 3% said they didn’t know if Scotland should have its own migration controls.
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