SCOTLAND may attempt to "emulate" freedom of movement under plans for a Scottish visa system which could eventually expand beyond the EU, the SNP's migration minister has said. 

Ben Macpherson said a separate work system for Scotland could scrap the UK Government's post-Brexit plans for a salary threshold for EU migrants.

Critics previously branded the proposals for a £30,000 threshold "cruel and stupid" after research revealed 1.5 million jobs in Scotland fall under this barrier.

READ MORE: UK Government's post-Brexit immigration plans branded ‘cruel and stupid’

Mr Macpherson said Scots are "alarmed" at the UK's post-Brexit immigration plans, while "more and more" businesses are open to the idea of a separate Scottish system. 

He said Scotland could beat its own path by scrapping any salary threshold and emulating EU rules around freedom of movement. 

And he insisted the "capacity and opportunity of designing the rules and criteria of a Scottish visa could allow us to expand it beyond the EU".

Speaking after an event at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, he said ministers were proposing "a Scottish visa within a UK framework", adding: "This would be an additional route, based on residency – so the individual would have to be working and living in Scotland.

"And it would be in conjunction with the UK Government, because Border Force would still be reserved, but we would set the rules and criteria of that visa through the Scottish Parliament.

"And the reason we should do that is because that would give us the best visa to fit the needs of Scotland.

"We could decide to have a lower salary threshold, we could decide to have no salary threshold, we could decide not to have an immigration skills charge, we could decide if we wanted to emulate freedom of movement from the EEA [European Economic Area]. 

"So those decisions would be made by the Scottish Parliament, and we will be coming forward with further technical detail on that in due course."

Mr Macpherson added: "Currently the UK Government has a cap on numbers but that hasn't worked, and actually we need to grow our population in Scotland so these are matters that we could decide in terms of the rules and criteria that we would set here in Scotland."

He continued: "We could decide not to cap from the EEA. Those are decisions that we could decide. The whole point of a Scottish visa is that we would create the rules and criteria here in Scotland."

READ MORE: UK immigration plan 'would reduce number of Scottish workers'

Mr Macpherson, the SNP minister for Europe, migration and international development, said he had engaged with UK immigration minister Caroline Nokes "in good faith and in a constructive manner" on the issue.

"If the UK Government wants to have a more restrictive approach for the rest of the UK, that is their choice – a wrong choice in my view, but that is their choice," he said.

"But it's certainly the wrong choice for Scotland."

He said experts had shown the "devastating impact" the UK Government's proposals could have on Scotland.

He added: "So showing that evidence to the UK Government and also stakeholders raising their concerns to the UK Government has, I think, created a position where the UK Government has to look at this with an open mind."