THE sixth independence white paper has been published - setting out the Scottish Government’s vision for a “fair” approach to migration policy.

The paper Migration to Scotland after Independence covers the reasoning behind why more migration is needed, and sets out differences that an independence Scotland would take in comparison to the “hostile” approach currently taken by Westminster.

READ MORE: Independent Scotland would have 'polar opposite migration policy' to Westminster

The National have picked out the five key points from the 60-page document.

Migration to tackle population decline

The paper opens with the sobering statement that migration is the “sole driver of population growth” in Scotland, despite the latest census results showing a record number of people living in the country.

The latest figures also revealed an ageing population and declining birth rate, and other parts of the UK showing higher rates of population growth than Scotland. With public attitudes to migration in Scotland warming “considerably”, the paper also sets out how 38% of the Scottish population thinks immigration should be increased compared to decreased (28%).

With Scotland’s population expected to peak at 5.53 million in 2033 before starting to decline, and the working age population set to drop with it, the paper argues more migration could mitigate population decline and will have a positive economic and cultural impact.

The National:

New visa routes

One of the key parts of the paper sets out a number of different visa routes that ministers would seek to create in an independent Scotland. The first would be the “Live in Scotland” route, a new type of visa allowing people to live and work in Scotland without employer sponsorship.

Those hoping to take advantage of the visa would have to meet a number of criteria set out in immigration rules, such as age, education, skills and work experience, earning potential and language ability - with potential extra credit for knowledge of Gaelic as well as English. It would also aim to tackle rural depopulation by encouraging migration to areas where extra skills are needed.

A “Scottish Connections” visa route would allow those who have previously lived and studied in Scotland, those with an ancestral connection such as parents or grandparents, and British nationals who are not British citizens to apply for residency.

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Other routes would see migrants sponsored by employers and remove the minimum income requirement for family visas. The paper adds that the “complexity” of the system will be reduced for those applying, and with costs set as low as possible.

Asylum protections

While there are few routes for those seeking asylum in the UK to arrive here legally, an independent Scotland would seek to open up a number of “safe routes” and allow refugees to be resettled based on their skills, experience and aspirations rather than “their vulnerabilities”.

Those who were not successful in the asylum process would not be detained “by default”, as the current system does, and if necessary would only be for a “limited period before removal”.

And, learning from the Windrush scandal, the Scottish Government would seek to provide legal protections for asylum seekers and refugees. There would also be a Scottish Asylum and Refugee Resettlement Agency (SARRA) established after independence.

The National: Welcome to Scotland sign

Supporting tourism

Visitors to Scotland would be allowed to remain for six months, the paper says, and at the point of independence would initially have the same rules as the rest of the UK on which nationalities do and do not require a visa, ahead of conducting their own international negotiations.

Freedom of movement within the Common Travel Area (CTA) with the UK and Ireland would be sought, as would, eventually, freedom of movement within the European Union.

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There would also be visa routes created to “support seasonal employment” ahead of rejoining the EU. Workers would also not be tied to staying with one employer as part of strengthened labour rights for those working in industries such as agriculture.

Differences to Westminster

The core of the document is a “polar opposite” migration system than the one currently presided over by Westminster. Not only that, but the document argues that the UK Government’s policies not only ignore, but make worse, the issue of depopulation, by having such strict rules and no safe and legal routes.

Ministers would aim to make policy “flexible” depending on Scotland’s needs, “streamline and simplify” immigration law and “roll back” as much of the hostile environment policies as they can, adding that primary legislation might be needed to “completely undo it all”.

But the overall point is that Westminster isn’t going to solve Scotland’s population problems, with current rhetoric actively hindering efforts to do so, and independence is now “the only way to mitigate” population decline and other issues facing the country.