Page last updated at 11:34 GMT, Sunday, 26 July 2009 12:34 UK

Points bonus for Scots immigrants

Edinburgh skyline
Immigrants may get extra points for living in Scotland

Immigrants who choose to live and work in Scotland could earn British citizenship more readily, according to Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy.

Writing in Scotland on Sunday, he says moving to Scotland could see immigrants earn points towards their application.

Points are granted according to things like skills, age and potential salary.

Mr Murphy said he wants to see Scotland become a melting pot - but he stressed new arrivals must be controlled under a tight immigration policy.

There is to be a consultation process on the proposal, but in his article Mr Murphy writes of the demographic challenge facing Scotland, with an ageing population and the need to recruit in sectors such as tourism.

Scotland Office Minister Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy wants to see Scotland become a melting pot

The article says a new "points-based" test for citizenship will credit applicants if they have set up home in parts of the country in need of increased population.

Scotland has been singled out by the Home Office as a place where points could be earned, because its own population is likely to fall over the long term.

Mr Murphy wrote: "Our need for a growing population is ranked along with the need to recruit to shortage occupations."

The current system means foreigners can apply for British citizenship on the basis they are settled and have lived in the country for a specified period of time.

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