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21 May 2018

Wall Street Journal: UK finance industry pushes for immigration overhaul after Brexit

A joint report by influential trade body TheCityUK and accounting firm EY said there is a “clear risk” to the City’s ability to attract the best global talent after the UK leaves the European Union, and said a new approach to immigration is needed.

It recommends a new waiver system, which would allow companies to transfer international employees to their U.K. office for up to six months without a visa.

Such a system would mark a big change in U.K. immigration policy and make it significantly easier for non-EU staff, including U.S. citizens, to take up highly skilled positions in the U.K.

At present, there are no restrictions on EU workers coming into the U.K., while non-EU citizens face a complex administrative process even for short-term visas.

The City has long relied on a fire hose of international talent to build its position as a global financial hub. Currently, more than a quarter of U.K. banking and finance professionals are non-U.K. citizens, with the vast majority of those staff filling a skills shortage in the U.K., according to TheCityUK.

In a submission to the report, fund giant Fidelity said there is a chance that U.S. or Canadian workers could be deterred from coming to the U.K. because of continued uncertainty around the government’s Brexit plans and the perception of a hostile atmosphere around work permits generated by what Fidelity described as misleading press coverage.

Philip Edwards, head of culture at insurer Lloyd’s, said the company needs internationally connected staff in London. "It’s possible to build that knowledge here, but it would take time,” he said.

In the long term, the report said, industry feedback recommends not offering preferential immigration treatment to European citizens, and that there should instead be a “level playing field” where the same rules should apply to all nationalities. [...]

Full article on The Wall Street Journal

TheCityUK/EY report

© Wall Street Journal

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