Seema Farazi, UK Financial Services Immigration Leader at EY

#FutureofWork - New immigration system should support COVID-19 recovery and longer-term UK competitiveness 

The new immigration system should be streamlined to support the economic recovery as well as the UK’s longer-term competitiveness as a centre for international talent, according to a report published today (6 October) by the City of London Corporation and EY.

The Government is implementing a new immigration system that is due to come into effect from January 2021.

The new report – Building an immigration system for the future of workoutlines a number of detailed recommendations that could enhance the attractiveness of the UK to international talent, improve the sponsorship process and support diversity, inclusion and flexible working.

These include:

  • Streamlining the costs and introducing flexibilities for small and medium firms
  • Removing unnecessary administrative processes
  • Introducing additional flexibility to enable part-time working to promote diversity and inclusion

The report also notes how the COVID-19 pandemic has led numerous countries, including the UK, to innovate by radically ripping up red tape, granting automatic extensions to visas and moving to online processing. It states that the Home Office should consider making some of the measures that it has taken during the crisis to speed up the process and reduce the administrative burden more permanent.

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair at the City of London Corporation, said:

“It is vital now more than ever that the UK remains an attractive location for international talent.

“Introducing a new immigration system at a time of an unprecedented pandemic is a huge challenge, but it also presents a unique opportunity to hit the ‘reset’ button so that the process works better for employers, applicants and the Home Office.

“This report sets out how the new points-based system – in parallel with developing domestic talent – could be adapted to support both the immediate recovery from COVID-19 and our long-term competitiveness. Cutting red tape, reducing cost and increasing flexibility will help to drive economic growth.”

Seema Farazi, UK Financial Services Immigration Leader at EY, comments:

“The UK immigration system has been ripe for innovation for some time, and over recent months we have witnessed incredibly fast progress in key areas. COVID-19 has inadvertently provided increased positive scrutiny around how we work, and has accelerated digital progress across business.

“To really demonstrate innovation however, the future of work must be intrinsically linked to strong, purpose-driven immigration policy that aligns with business as it looks to nurture and upskill talent in the UK market. The UK financial services sector attracts some of the world’s top talent, and a truly innovative new immigration system will continue to facilitate and improve on this, especially as we enter a post-Brexit world.”

The report will be launched later today at a virtual event, which will feature a keynote speech by Kevin Foster MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Minister for Future Borders and Immigration).

It follows the publication in 2018 of another report – Streamlining success: Building a world-class visa process for the UK – by the City of London Corporation and EY.

According to the Office for National Statistics, international workers made up 39% of the City of London’s total workforce in 2019.

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