Brexit and the future of immigration in the U.K. and EU

It is no surprise that the potential effects of Brexit are already being felt around the world. Global corporations and international businesses feel that Brexit will not be good for the EU as a
whole. In a recent survey, we identified that 56 percent of assignees in the U.K. think Brexit will be bad for the EU – with 57 percent in Germany agreeing, along with 51 percent in the Netherlands and 55 percent in Ireland.

In the event of a “no deal,” the U.K. will cease to be a member state of the EU. The prospect of imminent separation means that companies based in the U.K. are currently in the process of assessing the impact of these changes on their business models. They are already training local staff and increasing global mobility budgets to mitigate any impact.

Britain has always been one of the most popular destinations to work on assignment, regularly featuring in the top three destinations for relocating employees. 32 percent of those surveyed believe that Brexit will cause a potential skills gap as a result of staff leaving to return home.

We recently interviewed Andrea Fascetti, Global Director of Immigration Services, to explore the problems and challenges Brexit uncertainty has caused, and what companies should be doing to prepare.

What’s the immigration impact and your advice?

A Brexit will mean that all the EU nationals living and working in the U.K., and U.K. nationals living and working in the EU member states, will be impacted. The Free Movement of People Agreement will no longer apply to these individuals. They may need to adjust their immigration status according to the rules applicable to non-EU citizens, such as Americans and Canadians.

We highly recommend that companies conduct internal audits and identify employees that will be affected – U.K. nationals working in EU states and EU nationals working in the U.K., if that hasn’t already been done.

Deal or no deal?

Ideally, Brexit with a deal. We anticipate that the deal would prescribe a grace period and different lateral agreement to facilitate the movement of people within the region. This will allow companies to apply for, and change the work permit categories of their employees, hopefully without disrupting operations.

What are companies doing at the moment?

Most companies in the U.K. are in a “wait-and-see period.” Their entities and affiliated around Europe continue to monitor political developments closely as the post-Brexit environment is still uncertain. However, we sense that the majority of business entities plan on continuing operations in the U.K. and selected EU members. Leadership teams are also assessing additional jurisdictions to incorporate, where there are no restrictions to non-EU entities. Most companies appear to be keeping their headquarters in England and Wales, but this may change in the near future.

How will business be impacted?

Companies are aware of certain licensing issues, depending on their industries in various EU member states. Since the situation is still uncertain, companies do not plan to take any specific action prior to Brexit. At the moment, they are conducting due diligences to communicate their plans post Brexit, should there be a need to take action on certain jurisdictions.

As a subject that doesn’t only affect those in the U.K., we need to take notice of how all Europeans are “feeling.”

By making the extra effort now we’ll understand how business relationships can be protected in the future – no matter where the politics lead us.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact, Andrea Fascetti, Global Director Immigration Services

 For more information on the survey conducted about how Europe feels about Brexit please download here

Brexit Europe Survey

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