What global mobility’s immigration experts think

We asked immigration experts across the global mobility sector for their views on whether Brexit Britain was pro-immigration and what this means for business.

An illustration of a brain and a lightbulb
Think Global People Autumn 2020 issue
This article is taken from the first issue of Think Global People, the new home of Relocate Magazine.
Click on the cover to access the digital edition or read all of the articles on our website.
Peter Graham, Group Director of Visa and Immigration Services at Santa Fe Relocation said, “Immigration has always been a complex maze of laws and procedures, not least because of its deeply political nature. Organisations that thrive are increasingly drawing on diverse talent from new sources on a more global basis than ever before.“At the same time, we see an increasing number of governments pursuing a more nationalistic approach aimed at protecting their own labour markets. For the UK Government to ‘get this right’ in a post-Brexit environment, it will be critical for them to listen closely to industry and to respond quickly to their needs.“This must be done against a background of pressure from third countries seeking to gain concessions on immigration for their nationals during the round of post-Brexit trade talks that are now well underway between the UK and countries around the world. Countries such as China and India have already declared this publicly as one of their objectives in these negotiations.”

Immigration and technology: Covid-19 accelerates digital impact

Kathrine Ayers, Global Immigration Specialist – UK & EMEA at Envoy Global, observed the impact of technology.  “Immigration processes worldwide are evolving at a rapid pace, much due to Covid-19. Now more than ever, it’s important for businesses to monitor changes in systems across countries to ensure they are providing more up-to-date and helpful information to employees.“Today, the UK in particular is working to adjust its immigration processes to reach a similar level compared to other countries. Like many others, it is focused on becoming more digitised and streamlined through processes, like introducing an updated points-based system (PBS) to include EU and EEA nationals beginning in 2021.”Future-fit-in-text-banner3

Immigration: benefits for business include lowering required skills levels

Her colleague Stephanie Lewin, Head of Global Immigration – Envoy Global, commented, “Businesses are open to the changes made to the UK immigration system as they are working to create more opportunities and mend operational difficulties. The removal of the Resident Labour Market Test and decrease in minimum salary will help bridge the gap between London and regional salaries.“Businesses will favour this change as it’s an area many have struggled with in the past. Lowering the required skill level opens up thousands more job opportunities for roles that were previously ineligible.“For students, the UK immigration system has become more welcoming through its introduction of a Graduate Route. This permits post-graduate students who wish to obtain experience working in the UK to do so without requesting sponsorship by a company. These favourable, people-focused changes to UK immigration processes are likely to grab the attention of local businesses and those across the globe who wish to take a similar approach.”
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The EU Settlement Scheme: more popular than predicted

Naomi Hanrahan-Soar, Managing Associate – Lewis Silkin, commented on the number of EU nationals looking to remain in the UK and what this might tells us.“The EU Settlement Scheme is proving far more popular than predicted with over 3.7 million applications having been made already and another 10 months to go. Given the lack of data on numbers of EEA nationals in the UK or who lived in the UK prior to the referendum, presumably this is just an error in the original 3 million estimate.“There has been a slight upturn in the number of EU Settlement Scheme applications concluded as the Home Office has focused on processing outstanding complicated applications. This may lead to an increase in refusals over the coming months. Although the refusal figures state that only 1% of refusals are based on suitability rather than eligibility, this may be partly because eligibility is a much simpler way to refuse an application, which may fail for suitability grounds as well.“The figures thus far reflect the ONS statistics released after the outcome of the referendum; that the vast majority of EEA migrants to the UK are working age with only a tiny percentage over 65 years old. This supports the theory that the UK is a destination for working EEA nationals who do not always choose to remain in the UK permanently.Au20-in-text-banner“Over nine out of ten (91%) applicants are based in England and the top ten areas by local council are all within London. Again, this reflects that migrants are going where the most work appears to be. Unfortunately, this also means that some regions don’t receive as much benefit from entrepreneurial, working-age migrants as they may wish, hence Scotland’s drive to attract more migrants to boost its economy, for example. “One can’t help noting the curious point that those regions with the most EEA nationals are the regions that were least in favour of Brexit. Given that EEA nationals could not vote in the referendum without having first become British, one could suggest that those who have the most day-to-day experience of EEA migration are the most in favour because they see and experience its rich benefits.”  

EEA and non-EEA immigration

Looking further afield to migration to the UK from the rest of the world, Naomi Hanrahan-Soar says, “The migration statistics reflect that the UK’s educational institutions remain one of its most attractive features as the immigration of non-EEA students continues to rise.“EEA net migration has risen again over the past year after a dip post-referendum, perhaps driven by a desire to grab the opportunity of Free Movement before it is gone. However, the dip in EEA net migration could also be seen as stabilisation as economists predicted would naturally occur after an initial increase to reflect the countries newly admitted to the Free Movement system.“Non-EEA net migration has been continuing to rise since 2013 and is at some of its highest levels since records began in 1975.  This is largely driven by students coming to the UK for higher education, particularly from East and South East Asia. Student visas do not lead to settlement in the UK, so those migrants would usually need to find an alternative visa route by the end of their studies, such as a work or investment visa, if they wish to remain in the UK longer-term.” 

Illegal immigrants – the human tragedy

Yash Dubal, Director of A Y & J Solicitors, has been dismayed by scenes of migrants crossing from France aboard flimsy boats and inflatables. He believes that many of them are risking their lives unnecessarily as they may qualify for jobs in the UK legally. He is now offering to use his experience of the UK’s confusing immigration system and inviting migrants to contact his company confidentially so their chances of gaining lawful employment in the UK can be assessed.Mr Dubal said, “There is a common misconception that people migrating from poor nations are themselves poor and uneducated. This is not always the case. Often migrants are well-qualified. Migration is an investment for them and their families.“It is tragic that some of these people who are desperate to come and work in the UK are highly skilled and could legally get visas, rather than risk their lives at the hands of people traffickers. I’m asking anyone stuck in France and attempting to come to the UK illegally who has a college education or experience working in one of Britain’s shortage occupations to get in touch so I can give advice.”Shortage occupations in the UK include:
  • engineers
  • IT developers and programmers
  • medical practitioners
Last year Mr Dubal’s business helped around 400 foreign workers attain visas to work in the UK. He understands the motivations of migrants, having arrived in the UK in 2003 with no contacts, no support and just a few hundred pounds.“I worked as a cashier in Spitalfields Market and found a place to live in East London,” he says. “I saved £50 to send to my mother so she could buy the first fridge she’d ever owned. I worked hard, at times seven days a week for 18 hours a day, with no holidays.”
Think Global People Autumn 2020 issue
This article is taken from the first issue of Think Global People, the new home of Relocate Magazine.
Click on the cover to access the digital edition or read all of the articles on our website.

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