Looking for British citizenship, head for Scotland

Immigrants who live and work in Scotland could earn British citizenship more readily

27th July 2009: If you are an immigrant looking for British citizenship, head for Scotland. Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has said immigrants who choose to live and work in Scotland could earn British citizenship more readily.

Mr. Murphy said the Home Office is preparing a long-term change to the immigration rules.
Consultations are to be held on the proposal, but once in force, foreigners who choose to live and work in Scotland could earn British citizenship more readily.

The Scottish Secretary said there is a proposal to have a revised points-based system for earning British citizenship. One of the ways to earn these points would be to make a commitment to live and working in Scotland.

Factors taken into consideration for granting the points include skills, age and potential salary. With the announcement, it is clear moving over to Scotland may soon mean immigrants earning points towards their application.

Mr. Murphy said they will carrying on consultations on this new points-based route to citizenship. But as of now, he is glad to say living and working in Scotland is proposed as one way to earn points.

Scotland has apparently been chosen by the Home Office for the implementation of the proposal as its own population is likely to fall in long run.

Going into the background of the proposal, Mr. Murphy has stressed on factors like an ageing population and the need to carry out recruitment in tourism and other such sectors, while referring to the demographic challenge facing Scotland.

In an article, Mr. Murphy has written: "Our need for a growing population is ranked along with the need to recruit to shortage occupations."

The new "points-based" system will benefit applicants, if they set up home in parts of the country in need of increased population.

Addressing the apprehensions of over-immigration, Mr. Murphy said the new arrivals must be controlled under a tight immigration policy.

Announcing its support for the proposal, a Scottish Government spokesman says the ministers are encouraging on the issue raised with the Home Office by External Affairs Minister Michael Russell.

Describing it as a move in the right direction, SNP home affairs spokesperson at Westminster Pete Wishart says powers over immigration should be handed to Scotland, just as they are in the Australia’s states. It will not only benefit Scotland, but also help lift some of the pressure on the UK Home Office.

The move, contained in a draft consultation to be released in the next few weeks, has, however, not gone down well with the critics. They apprehend prospective British citizens already settled in Britain may eventually rush north of the border in an attempt to make sure they have enough points to succeed.

It will be extremely difficult to ensure an applicant living and working in Scotland will stay there because once a passport application is approved, the Government has no control over the applicant’s movements.

Reacting to the development, Shadow immigration minister Damian Green says the move is completely absurd saying it is a completely inappropriate idea for solving problems in Scotland or the rest of the UK.

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