UK immigration plans threaten family reunification, says Scottish Government

Scots living abroad could have difficulty in bringing family members with them if they choose to return to Scotland after Brexit, according to the Scottish Government.

UK Government proposals published earlier this month outlined that UK nationals will be able to return to the country with their children and other close family members under existing rules until March 29 2022.

After that date, the UK Government says that family members will be able to return to the UK by applying through applicable UK Immigration Rules.

However, concerns have been raised over a planned skills-based immigration system, announced in December last year, which is designed to replace freedom of movement.

As part of proposals, a threshold of £30,000 would be set for skilled workers, a scheme which the UK Government claims will “favour experience and talent over nationality”.

There have been calls for the threshold to be lowered in order to come into line with the average annual wage in Scotland, estimated to be around £24,000.

The Scottish Government’s migration minister Ben Macpherson said that UK citizens living in the EU deserve guarantees from the UK Government about their rights to return home with family members if and when the UK leaves the EU.

“The Stay in Scotland campaign launched by the First Minister earlier this month made clear how much the Scottish Government values the contributions made by EU citizens living and working in Scotland,” he said.

“Of course the negative consequences of the UK Government’s planned exit from the EU also extend to the rights of UK citizens living in other member states and I am particularly concerned about the implications for those who hope to return to Scotland with their families in the future.

“Under UK Government proposals, due to come into effect in 2022, someone with a non-UK national spouse and children will no longer be allowed to return to Scotland with his or her family unless strict financial thresholds are met. This is unfair.

“I do not accept that someone’s ability to return to Scotland should be judged through arbitrary financial requirements, that do not take into account individual and often compassionate circumstances. The UK Government must seriously reconsider their proposals.

“Scots who want to return to Scotland from elsewhere in the EU should be able to bring their families with them, no matter how much they earn.”

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “The UK has a proud history of being open and welcoming – this will not change after the UK leaves the EU.

“We understand that families need to be able to plan with confidence which is why we have put in place a three-year transition period after which family reunion rights for all UK nationals in the UK and abroad will be aligned.

“To understand the specific needs of the whole of the UK, we are engaging with stakeholders, business, the Scottish Government and the public throughout 2019 before the system is finalised.”

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