Interviewed Company: Hudson McKenzie
Sector: Law, Immigration
Interview Thursday 13th July 2017
Interview with Rahul Batra
Subjects: brexit, future disruption, law
Fintnews spoke to Rahul about the Brexit that he has felt as Managing Partner and Head of Hudson McKenzie’s Immigration Group based in London.
Fintnews: What impact have you seen from the Brexit disruption at Hudson McKenzie?
Rahul says that understandably, there has been “lots of client uncertainty” and “since the Brexit decision, clients have been asking…what’s going to happen, what is the next step?”
Although, Rahul notes that “nothing has changed…what we heard a year ago is exactly the same as what we’re hearing now.” With regards to business Hudson McKenzie “haven’t seen any less work than before (Brexit).”
As far as non EU nationals are concerned it’s “business as usual” and “hasn’t discouraged people from coming to the UK.”
The EU “residence card will confirm their status to live in the UK…or if you have lived in the UK for more than five years.” Rahul advises clients to ”apply for a residence card if you are eligible for that…so at least you’re secure.” Adding that “Theresa May has said there will be a cut off date soon” and Hudson McKenzie are urging clients to act quickly upon this.
Hudson McKenzie “work with a lot of American and UK companies for their transfers” (of internal employees) and this transfer rate has remained steady, too.
Fintnews: Is Brexit disrupting your business model?
“We aren’t being disruptive” or being disrupted the “business hasn’t changed.”
“Work will probably pick up a lot in the next few years for immigration” as the number of low skilled EU nationals requiring VISAs looks to increase.
Hudson McKenzie also “advise The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and also sit on the panel for the Home Office to advise them on what they should be doing to make it a better immigration system.” Perhaps Hudson McKenzie are indeed being disruptive by offering a significantly better service to clients than their competitors, as seen by Hudson McKenzie’s numerous awards and board positions allowing them to differentiate themselves in the market.
Fintnews: Is there a formula for this disruption?
From a client’s perspective, “banks and the construction industry hire a lot of EU nationals.” Moreover, “certain non EU nationals come here for farming if these people aren’t able to come in as freely these sectors will be affected” and disrupted.
Rahul points Fintnews to a controversial ‘Barista VISA’ as typically Eastern European migrants are seen working in coffee shops. After Brexit the government are concerned at the impact that any change in migrant working laws may have on this sector.
Rahul says that Brexit “maybe discouraging EU nationals who are already abroad.” After attending a conference last week, he discovered that “some EU nationals are (now) demanding higher salaries…pound is weaker…worried about Brexit…excuse for them to demand higher salaries…and employers are paying them a higher amount to get them in.” Concluding that Brexit is being used as an “excuse for these people (EU nationals working in the UK) to get more than they deserve.”
Fintnews: What are your predictions for the future post Brexit in two years time?
Rahul dislikes “the words hard and soft Brexit” and thinks that “it will be a muddy affair…it’s not going to be that easy” and he “can’t see Teresa May drawing a hard line” due to the amount of trade between the regions (EU and UK).”
Rahul points out that the Government “can’t stop asylum seekers…how can they stop EU nationals..and ask them to leave the country in one go?” Instead he thinks that “there will be some sort of a work permit scheme…where people who want to come…will need to go through a bureaucratic process, filling out a form, paying fee, then coming in.”
“We buy their German cars, if there is a hard drawn line who will buy these German cars and who will buy these fruits and vegetables from the EU?”
Fintnews: Will more legal firms be set up to take advantage of the bureaucratic formalities likely to be created by Brexit?
Yes, as “more bureaucracy will be created and everyone will want to take advantage of the extra work created.”
Looking back to “before 2008…excession states joining (the) EU…changed these work permits a lot…non skilled VISAs (were applied for from) Eastern European countries.”
Involving a “lengthy process and fee for non skilled workers…non EU applications already have a huge backlog….delays whole process…businesses start getting affected.” Rahul “can’t see them streamlining the whole process.”
In essence, the UK has already been on the receiving end and felt the impact of long bureaucratic processes from Eastern European migrant workers. Following the Brexit decision they will begin to see the impact from the opposite viewpoint.
Rahul states that “if they (the UK Government) then try to do something that they haven’t done before” in relation to VISA processes and bureaucracy. It “will create confusion in the Home Office”
Rahul concludes that clearly, this is “not going to be an easy task.”
Fintnews: will they meet the Brexit deadline?
“They should, but we (the UK) aren’t prepared.”
Rahul says his first step would be to “build a wall or a barrier…a physical barrier…so many EU people coming.. if you really want to stop that you really need to secure your physical boundaries first.”
Fintnews: But surely that could start impacting your business as you don’t have 100% British national employees?
There are “enough lawyers in the UK, to fulfil these jobs, if EU nationals are highly skilled enough they will still get in with some work permission.”
Rahul thinks that we should be “more worried about the non skilled people… especially your carpenters, electricians, plumbers and car washing people…the Home Office will go hard on them…they steal the UK jobs…that’s what the Government says, right?”
“If they feel that these jobs should remain with the UK, they should come up with something else,” another Brexit plan…
Fintnews: What has the impact been for students following the Brexit disruption?
“Student VISAs have dwindled a lot in the last few years” After the “Government cancelled many universities’ sponsor licences. Student’s can only bring dependants or work in very limited circumstances and “the post study VISA is no longer there.” The result has been a large decrease in student numbers. “Brexit or no Brexit…since 2012 when a lot of these rules changed,” the impact has continued.
Again, Hudson McKenzie always advise clients who are already here to apply for some sort of residency card…as long as they are doing something here “without claiming any government funds.”
With 15 years of Immigration Lawyer experience Rahul is sure that “skilled bankers and ICT professionals will be fine under a VISA scheme.” He simply, “can’t see all the headquarters of major companies moving to Ireland or Germany.”
Rahul summaries by saying that “I believe in the scarcity principle…if something is scarce people want to come more…” If the Brexit result means that there is a longer process “we (the UK) will get higher quality candidates” as a result.
Further reading: Brexit Disruption Opinion From Axelisys’ Director
Although, we’ll have to wait until 2019 and beyond to see the true extent of the Brexit disruption…