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During summer recess, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and I had introductory meetings with the UK immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, and I expressed my concerns to her about UK policy on immigration. Although we hold profoundly different positions, I hope to work professionally and constructively with Ms Nokes to ensure that the rights of EU citizens in Scotland are protected and that Scotland’s needs on migration and population are met in future policy.
Does the minister agree that the fees that are charged to UK-born children of migrants who register as British citizens should be scrapped or drastically reduced? The current fee is £1,012, with £372 going on administrative costs, leaving a £640 profit for the Home Office. Is that not simply immoral profiteering?
It is clear that current UK immigration policy is simply not appropriate for Scotland. The current costs are prohibitively expensive, as has been articulated, preventing eligible children for applying for British citizenship. Indeed, Stuart McDonald MP highlighted that very issue in a Westminster debate last month.
The immigration system should be easy to access and focused on what a prospective migrant will contribute, not on their ability to pay. As a result, any fees and charges should be proportionate.
People who choose to make their lives in Scotland are our friends and neighbours. They strengthen our society, and we welcome them. We need an immigration system that values their contribution to Scotland, is fair and compassionate and puts people first, and this Government will continue to argue for that in stark contrast and opposition to the United Kingdom Government’s hostile environment policy.