Work permit withdrawal symptoms

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Losing your job is bad. Losing your job when it's linked to both your right and the right of your wife and two children to stay in the country is very, very bad. And losing your job and then having to stay in the country while you hand over your passport in an attempt to secure your immigration status is really very bad - particularly if it means you lose the opportunity to interview in somewhere like Dubai as a result.

As thousands of people are made redundant, immigration lawyers say they're being approached by lots of ex, or soon to be ex-bankers who are worried about their immigration status.

"If you're on a work permit and you lose your job, you will need to switch to a Tier One visa," says Julia Onslow Cole, UK head of global immigration at PWC Legal. "It's a big issue - particularly for people who are in the middle of an immigration process at banks that are going into administration. They can't continue with their outstanding application and have to start again."

Landing a Tier One visa isn't that difficult. The UK government runs a website stipulating the criteria and an online calculator to help you establish your eligibility.

"Most of the people coming to me are eligible," says Sushma Awtani at solicitors Landau Zeffertt Weir. "You need to score 75 points overall and you immediately get 20 points if you're under 28, 50 points if you have a PhD, and 45 points if you earned 40k or more in your previous position."

Lawyers say the real issue is the hassle of switching from a work permit to Tier One status and what happens during the period in between. "If you came here on a work permit, your immigration permission ceases as soon as you're no longer an employee," says Onslow Cole. "This creates practical problems - you might want to go for an interview in America or Singapore, but you can't leave the country."

Surprisingly, perhaps, lawyers say many of the thousands of international bankers in the City of London want to stay around and look for a new position. Onslow Cole says that those who leave are interested in Dubai, China and South America.

For information on how to get into China and South American countries (and more), we suggest you visit the very helpful Fragomen website, which offers useful emigration information for anyone looking to leave the City for a year or two.

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