A HOME Office move to force foreign residents in Shetland and Orkney to travel to the mainland to complete language qualifications if they want to stay in Britain have been condemned by local SNP candidate Danus Skene.
Last week the UK government told the Scottish Qualifications Authority it could no longer award language certificates at its colleges, including those in the northern isles.
As a result, non-EU immigrants will have to travel to Edinburgh or Glasgow to have their English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) tests, which are necessary to obtain UK citizenship.
Skene accused Westminster of “sneaking out a discriminatory policy in the dying days of the coalition government that will cost people in Orkney and Shetland”.
The Home Office only told the SQA this week that it could no longer provide ESOL certificates after November 2015.
Instead the contract has gone to Trinity College London and Cambridge English language Assessment, whose only Scottish centres are in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Skene said: “ESOL students based here will therefore have to take time off work, pay travel costs and possible overnight accommodation in Glasgow or Edinburgh.
“This is hugely unfair. Courses and tests cost much more at these other providers in addition to travel and accommodation costs.
“Places like the isles need immigrants to fill jobs which would otherwise be unfilled. There are not enough locals to meet the needs of fish factories and joinery firms, etc. Immigrants should be valued as they help the local economy to grow.”