IT’S that time of year again. Love it or loathe it, Christmas is on the horizon and people are looking forward to spending time with their families.

But what about those who don’t have the luxury of seeing their families over the festive season? Thanks to Home Office immigration rules many people will only be able to speak to their spouses on the phone at this time of year.

If you happen to have fallen in love with someone from outside of the EU, your spouse can be prevented from living in the UK if you earn less than £18,600 a year, more if you have children.

Even if you meet that condition, your family is still subject to a complex and arbitrary regime of evidence gathering and decision making. In short, the odds are stacked against success at the outset.

Nobody should be priced out of living with their family. For too long, the UK has courted an anti-immigration narrative in the media and in government. It costs a lot to treat people this badly. The immigration system is unnecessarily cumbersome and deters people from staying, working and paying their taxes here.

The situation is set to get worse, with the future of EU workers after Brexit still not being guaranteed by the UK Government. Against all reason, targets are still in place to bring immigration down to under 100,000 a year. A level which, were it ever to be achieved, would have serious consequences for the UK’s economic prospects.

In Scotland, we have an ageing population which needs young immigrants to fund our future pensions. We should be actively supporting and encouraging the 190,000 migrant workers in Scotland, all of whom have chosen to be here, working and paying taxes, and deserve the same rights as everyone else.

It’s estimated that each EU worker contributes an additional £34,000 to Scotland’s GDP per year. Scotland needs more immigration, not less.

The economic case for the UK Government’s drive to reduce immigration has been thoroughly dismantled. It is driven by political motives to appease the right-wing of the Conservative Party.

We should stand by those who have chosen to make Scotland their home, and not let the future of our country be derailed by attempts to win over Ukip voters. Contrary to the views of some, immigrants are not “taking our jobs”.

Quite the opposite, in fact. Immigrants are creating jobs. Jobs are not a finite resource that can be used up, they are a driver of growth which in turn leads to – you’ve guessed it, more jobs.

This week I heard about a young man by the name of Harry Windsor. Harry recently got engaged to his girlfriend, who happens to be an American citizen.

I’m hoping that the happy couple will face no real barriers to being together, and that any inconvenient Home Office procedures can be brushed aside.

If only the same could be said about every family that wants to be together and contribute to society.