Independence: what you need to know

Information about Scotland's future.


The Scottish Government’s policies for migration in an independent Scotland at a glance:

  • set up a welcoming immigration system that would benefit Scotland’s population growth, the economy, public services and communities
  • introduce new visas which would allow people to live and work in Scotland more easily
  • offer protection to those who need it most through humane and compassionate refugee and asylum policies
  • an independent Scotland would apply to re-join the European Union (EU) which would allow EU citizens to live, work and study freely across EU member states, bringing diversity to our communities, more job choices and opportunities for cultural exchanges

Scotland’s immigration system

Independence would give Scotland control over migration policy. This would give an opportunity to introduce a new, welcoming immigration system and:

  • help grow Scotland’s declining population and sustain our public services
  • boost Scotland’s economy and support key sectors like tourism and agriculture
  • attract international students, with opportunities for them to live and work here after studying
  • support further contributions to our communities, helping to shape Scottish society and culture by actively being part of it

Three new, separate agencies would be set up in Scotland to handle immigration; asylum; and passport and citizenship.

Visas to live and work in Scotland

Under this government’s proposals, new visas would be introduced to support people to live and work here. These would include:

Live in Scotland visa

Would allow people to live and work here without employer sponsorship if they meet certain broad criteria. It would give credit for:

  • age
  • education
  • skills and work experience
  • earning potential
  • language ability.

It would also incorporate a place-based element, which means it could support migration to rural and island communities.

Scottish Connections visa

Would give certain people immediate rights to live and work here if they:

  • have had residence for at least five years
  • have a family connection through a parent or grandparent
  • have studied in Scotland for their degree
  • are British Nationals who are in UK overseas territories

Work in Scotland visa

Would be a visa through employer sponsorship, with simplified rules to allow more employers to recruit from abroad. A seasonal worker visa would also be introduced, removing the need for workers to be tied to a single employer.

Family visa

Would remove the current minimum income requirement that’s currently in place for a UK family visa, making it easier for families to choose Scotland as a place to live while also helping to reunite families who have been separated

The cost of visa fees would be set at a level that does not seek to make a profit.

Asylum services

This government would demonstrate our respect for human rights and social justice by offering protection to those who need it most.

A new asylum service would be set up separately to the immigration agency, and all asylum processing would take place in Scotland, with no offshoring to other countries. Independence would give an opportunity to:

  • offer a place of safety to those seeking asylum, and use new powers to put in place systems that help people to integrate into communities from day one, for example giving those seeking asylum the right to work – something they don’t currently have under current UK Government rules
  • only use detention when there is a clear need: the immigration removal centre at Dungavel would be closed and long-term or indefinite immigration detention would end
  • ensure that once people are granted refugee status, the transition is as straightforward as possible
  • continue to support refugees through a Scottish refugee resettlement programme.
  • as a member of the EU, Scotland would particulate in the EU refugee resettlement initiatives.


The Scottish Passport and Citizen Services Office (SPCSO) would issue passports to Scottish citizens. You can read more about Scottish citizenship and passports in the citizenship section of these pages

Read more in the migration paper.

More information will be added to these pages as the Building a New Scotland papers are published.

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