Citizenship in an independent Scotland

First Minister outlines who may be eligible for Scottish citizenship.

Scotland could take a fairer, and more welcoming approach to citizenship as an independent nation, according to a new paper published by First Minister Humza Yousaf.

‘Citizenship in an independent Scotland’, the fifth paper in the Building a New Scotland series’, sets out who could automatically become a citizen of an independent Scotland, and the pathway for others to qualify for Scottish citizenship, including those with a close and enduring connection to Scotland.

Other proposals in the paper include a fairer fee system for citizenship applications, based on cost recovery rather than revenue generation, and a commitment to establish an independent Migrants’ Commissioner – a key recommendation of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review.

The First Minister held a roundtable discussion at National Records of Scotland’s New Register House where he discussed the paper with representatives from migration policy organisations and individuals who may be eligible for citizenship under these proposals.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said:

“In this country, we are used to feeling a mix of identities. As a proud Scottish Pakistani, that’s something I understand and respect, and the policies in this paper would not require anybody to choose between being Scottish, British, or any other nationality.

“Instead, this paper proposes an open and inclusive approach to citizenship. One that welcomes people who want to settle in Scotland, rather than putting barriers and excessive fees in the way of individuals and their families.  

“With our aging population, Scotland faces an urgent demographic challenge. That’s why we want to welcome more people, to join those who have already settled in communities across our country and are contributing to a better economy, higher living standards, and stronger public services like our NHS.

“Scottish citizens could also enjoy benefits such as the right to hold a Scottish passport, continued freedom of movement within the Common Travel Area, and eventually, following our commitment to re-join the EU as an independent nation, resumed rights as EU citizens.

“I hope this paper will help to answer questions people might have about citizenship in an independent Scotland, and I look forward to hearing people’s views on our proposals.”


Building a New Scotland: Citizenship in an independent Scotland

Under these proposals, EU citizens resident in Scotland or the UK before 31 December 2020 would be entitled to receive settled status in Scotland, and a child born in Scotland after independence would automatically be a Scottish citizen if at least one of their parents was a Scottish, British or Irish citizen, or had ‘settled’ status in Scotland.

Those who want to become a Scottish citizen in future, including those with close and enduring connections to Scotland, could follow rules to apply for citizenship.

People resident in Scotland without Scottish citizenship would retain many of the same rights they currently hold, including rights to vote.

The previous four papers have set out evidence showing independent countries comparable to Scotland are wealthier and fairer than the UK; how Scottish democracy can be renewed with independence; the macroeconomic framework, including currency arrangements, for an independent Scotland; and how rights and equality could be at the heart of a written constitution developed by the people of Scotland.

Windrush Lessons Learned Review by Wendy Williams


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