The unspoken nightmare faced by non-EU nationals working in the City of London today

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Many non-EU nationals working in the City of London are being heavily penalised under new immigration rules which came into force in April.

Most notably, a high proportion of non-EU nationals who lose their jobs in the City of London are now obliged to leave the country for a year before they can come back to the UK.  Not only, therefore, do they lose their job, but they forego their home and community.

“It makes redundancy conversations with non-EU nationals very hard,” says the head of recruitment at one bank. “You’re not just telling them they’re out of work, but that they’ve got to get out of the country pretty soon afterwards and not come back for at least a year.”

James Perrott, an immigration lawyer at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says the new rules came into force on April 6th. They apply to people who came to the UK through the popular intra-company transfer route,  used by 30,000 migrants last year.

Intra-company transfers allow non-EU bankers to come and work in the UK for up to five years as long as they earn more than £40k and have worked for an employer overseas for more than 12 months previously.

However, individuals who come into the UK under the intra-company transfer route are at a major disadvantage because:

-   At the end of the five years, they MUST leave the UK for at least 12 months

-   They can’t switch to a new employer in the UK without first leaving the country for 12 months and then returning under a Tier 2 General Visa – or working abroad for another employer for 12 months and then getting another intra-company transfer.

-   Even if they stay in the UK for five years, at which point they should usually be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain, they can’t. Indefinite leave to remain is not offered to people on intra-company transfers.

Perrott says it’s causing major problems for financial services and IT organisations which are among the biggest users of the intra-company system. “We’ve had situations where experienced people come to the UK to set up a business for a bank here and it’s impossible for them to move on and work for a competitor  without leaving the country for 12 months first.

“We’ve also had a situations where banks have wanted to hire people and can’t, because they’re on an intra-company transfer and can’t move.”

Perrott is lobbying for people on intra-company transfers to be able to switch to a more flexible tier two general visa which would enable them both to switch employers and to gain leave to remain after five years. As things stand, he says a lot of financial services talent is being driven overseas. Alert to the problem, many people are also refusing intra-company transfers and insisting on the more arduous Tier 2 General Visa route.