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Brexit blow for Arab immigration to Britain

UK Border control is seen in Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, in this July 30, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
LONDON: Brexit is discouraging Arab immigration to Britain say lawyers, as continental Europe increases in appeal for emigrants.
Economic uncertainty, sluggish growth and the weak pound is also a turn-off for would-be immigrants eyeing the country as a base for their business.
“The fall in net migration to the UK may be an effect of the recent Brexit result, and due to perceived concerns over the resultant effect on the UK’s overall economic performance relative to other high-income EU member states,” said Nicola Anne Wilkins, senior immigration lawyer at Astons. “Concerns could be attributed to a number of factors including job certainty, a fall in the value of the pound or investment depreciation.”
Net migration to Britain fell to its lowest level in three years in the year to the end of March, according to UK government statistics released last week.
Brexit uncertainty is taking its toll on the UK economy, which grew by 0.3 percent in the second quarter according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It showed negligible household spending growth as consumer inflation reached a four-year high of 2.9 percent in May, fueled by the weak pound.
The weak pound can be both a positive and negative factor for would-be immigrants depending on their reasons for moving to the UK and what currency their own assets are held in.
While the fall in sterling has drawn Arab money into the UK property market — its investment appeal does not always equate to being an attractive place to live and work — especially with such a clouded economic outlook arising from Brexit.
“A lot of business people coming here are not particularly minded about their inability to access the European single market,” said Jahed Morad, a London-based lawyer who advises entrepreneurs and businesspeople from the Middle East on visa applications.
“But where it does impact them is the fall in the value of the pound and also the general economic uncertainty around Brexit, because if you are a small business owner coming into an uncertain environment in terms of the consumer appetite for your goods or services then obviously that makes them a little more nervous,” he said.
According to ONS data, about 15,000 people moved to the UK from the Middle East and Central Asia in the year to March 2017. The data does not include a breakdown of individual source countries.
Those numbers were flat on a year earlier but down by half from two years earlier when arrivals from the region peaked at 23,000 in the year to June 2015
Law firms and consultancies specializing in immigration advice are increasingly targeting the Middle East, drawn by the wealth held by Arabs considering a move to Europe.
“A lot of small firms with contacts in the Middle East have set up offices in Dubai where they advise clients on UK immigration and nationality laws,” added Morad.