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Free Movement - Citizens' Rights

Free Movement - Citizens' Rights

The Scottish Government greatly values those who have come to Scotland from other EU and EEA (European Economic Area) countries and who have made Scotland their home. The 181,000 EU citizens who live in Scotland enrich our culture, strengthen our society and boost our economy.

The Scottish Government recognises that this is a difficult time of uncertainty for many people. In response to this uncertainty, we have sought to reassure all EU and EEA citizens, and their family members, that they are welcome in Scotland and that Scotland is their home. Scottish Ministers have also urged the UK Government to immediately guarantee the rights of EU and EEA nationals living here.

The Scottish Government has published a response to the UK Government's Citizens’ Rights Paper. See below:

Scottish Government Response to UK Government Citizens’ Rights Paper

Downloadable document:

Title:Free Movement - Citizens' Rights
Description:Scottish Government's position on EU Citizens' Rights
File:Protecting the rights of EU Citizens [PDF, 220.1 kb: 17 Jul 2017]
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Free Movement - Citizens' Rights

We recognise the valuable and essential roles that EU nationals play in our society.

EU Nationals Infographic


Where can EU nationals look for more information on the EU and UK positions on citizens’ rights?

  • EU nationals may be interested in looking at the UK Government’s website on the status of EU citizens in the UK, or to sign up to Home Office updates on this issue.
  • On 29th May, the EU released their draft negotiation position on protecting citizens’ rights. The document can be found here.
  • On 26th June, the Prime Minister set out the UK Government’s proposals on the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU after the UK leaves the EU. This document can be found here.
  • TalentScotland’s website hosts information for EEA and non EEA nationals considering Scotland as a career destination. EEA nationals who are living in Scotland may be interested in the general immigration information provided which includes details on applying for Registration Certificates, Permanent Residency, and British Citizenship.  You will also find various links to Home Office website which contain more detailed guidance on the application process and associated requirements.

If you are looking for specialist immigration advice, you may wish to visit the below links:

What has the Scottish Government been doing for EU nationals since the EU referendum?

The Scottish Government has been working to protect Scotland’s interests, along with the interests of all our people, including EU nationals.

July 2016:

Following the EU referendum, the First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister to ask for an immediate guarantee for EU nationals.

The First Minister also invited consuls and diplomats from EU countries to a meeting in Bute House and issued an open letter to EU citizens living in Scotland to reassure them that Scotland values their contribution and that the Scottish Government will continue to push the UK Government to guarantee their status.

August 2016:

The Scottish Government held a public Q&A with EU nationals living here to discuss the referendum result – the first event of its kind in the UK. The First Minister and senior cabinet ministers listened to questions and concerns of an audience of around 450 people.

November 2016:

Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for International Development and Europe, met with a group of EU nationals to hear their concerns.

Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport met with a group of NHSScotland staff from within and outwith the EU to discuss their perspectives on Brexit.

December 2016:

The  Minister for International Development and Europe,  reiterated our calls for the UK Government to guarantee the status of EU nationals during a debate in the Scottish Parliament. He also wrote an opinion piece to mark International Migrants Day and to shine a light on the uncertainty that EU nationals have and continue to face.

The Scottish Government published Scotland’s Place in Europe. This paper set out the Scottish Government’s position following the EU referendum, stressing that full membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union is the best outcome not just for Scotland but for the whole of the UK. Remaining part of the single market means retaining freedom of movement - the two things are indivisible.

January 2017:

The Minister for International Development and Europe, spoke at and participated in Migrant Voice’s annual conference in Glasgow, where he again underlined the Scottish Government’s support for EU nationals during this uncertain time.

February 2017:

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe, met with a group of EU nationals working within NHSScotland staff to speak directly about their concerns.

April 2017:

The Scottish Government responded to the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee’s report on EU Migration and EU Citizens’ Rights. Our response outlined the importance of EU free movement of people to Scotland.

June 2017:

The Minister for International Development and Europe and the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe met with a group of EU nationals in Edinburgh. The meeting was a valuable opportunity for Scottish Ministers to speak directly to EU nationals about their concerns.

August 2017:

The Scottish Government will be responding to the Migration Advisory Committee's call for evidence on the economic and social impact of the UK’s exit from the EU.

The call for evidence was launched on 4th August and further details on this consultation, including how to submit a response, are available on the Home Office webpage. (Please note, the closing date for submissions is 27th October 2017).