In a landmark publication titled "Citizenship in an independent Scotland," First Minister Humza Yousaf envisions a more inclusive and fairer approach to citizenship, should Scotland gain its independence. This paper, the fifth in the Building a New Scotland series, outlines the eligibility criteria for Scottish citizenship, as well as proposals for a just fee system and the establishment of an independent Migrants' Commissioner.
At the core of the proposal lies the belief that individuals should not have to choose between their Scottish identity and other nationalities. The vision is one of openness and inclusivity, welcoming those who wish to settle in Scotland without placing unnecessary barriers or exorbitant fees in their way, along with their families.
With demographic challenges due to an aging population, Scotland recognizes the urgent need to attract more people to its shores. By embracing newcomers and allowing them to contribute to the country's communities, economy, and public services like the NHS, Scotland aims to build a stronger and more vibrant nation.
Key proposals in the paper include granting settled status in Scotland to EU citizens who were resident in Scotland or the UK before 31 December 2020. Additionally, any child born in Scotland after independence would automatically be considered a Scottish citizen if at least one of their parents is a Scottish, British, or Irish citizen or holds 'settled' status in Scotland.
For those aspiring to become Scottish citizens in the future, including those with close and enduring connections to Scotland, clear rules and application procedures would be put in place to facilitate their journey towards citizenship.
The proposed fairer fee system for citizenship applications is centered on cost recovery rather than revenue generation. This means that the fees would be set at a reasonable level, making citizenship more accessible to all who seek it.
Moreover, the First Minister has committed to establishing an independent Migrants' Commissioner, a crucial recommendation stemming from the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. This Commissioner would play a pivotal role in safeguarding the rights and interests of migrants, ensuring a just and supportive environment for those who choose to call Scotland their home.
Citizens of an independent Scotland would enjoy numerous benefits, including the right to hold a Scottish passport, continued freedom of movement within the Common Travel Area, and the eventual prospect of resumed rights as EU citizens, following Scotland's commitment to re-joining the EU as an independent nation.
The proposals laid out in "Citizenship in an independent Scotland" are aimed at answering questions and alleviating concerns about the future of citizenship in the nation. The First Minister is eager to hear the views and feedback from the public and stakeholders on these transformative proposals.
The paper is part of a comprehensive series titled "Building a New Scotland," which has previously addressed topics such as the potential wealth and fairness of an independent Scotland compared to the UK, the renewal of Scottish democracy with independence, the macroeconomic framework and currency arrangements, and the incorporation of rights and equality in a written constitution, collaboratively developed by the people of Scotland.
The vision for citizenship in an independent Scotland is founded on principles of inclusivity, fairness, and diversity. By embracing a more welcoming and open approach to citizenship, Scotland aims to create a vibrant and thriving society that embraces its citizens' multiple identities and contributions from all corners of the globe.