Scotland is currently enjoying the “best of both worlds” with its access to the current UK immigration system. This is according to paper from the government in Westminster, which suggests that Scots are benefiting from the UK-wide border controls.
The paper follows claims from Scottish nationalists suggesting that Scotland should be able to set its own controls over immigration if it opts for independence in September's referendum. Scots claim that the differences in their economy mean that cutting access to UK visas and work permits are having a particularly damaging impact on revenue from higher education and the top end of corporate recruitment.
A statement from the Scottish Government read: “The Westminster government's policy for the whole of the UK is heavily influenced by conditions in the south east of England.
“Scotland's differing demographic and migration needs mean that the current UK immigration system has not served our interests.”
However, the UK government's Scotland Office argued: "More than 20,000 staff in different agencies with resources of more than £2 billion are managing the UK border for the direct benefit of every UK citizen regardless of where they live or work."
The scale of the operation is one of the main problems that could crop up if Scotland is to take on board responsibility for its own borders. According to the Westminster paper, the UK government processed 2.65 million UK visa applicants in 2011-12 and granted 2.23 million visas. It also patrolled over 63,000 miles of territorial waters and searched thousands of vessels for illegal migrants, a daunting task for Scotland to take on for itself.