On Monday, 11 March, Newland Chase’s two Managing Directors in the United Kingdom – Tony Butterworth and Darren Faife – teamed up to present the live webinar Remaining in the UK after Brexit: Essential Settlement Guidance for EU Nationals. They discussed how companies in the UK can retain their valuable EU national employees by supporting them in obtaining Settled and Pre-Settled status after Brexit. In the 60-minute interactive webinar, they covered the latest status on Brexit, guidance on using the new online EU Settlement Scheme, qualifications for Settled versus Pre-Settled status, and application and document requirements.
Kent O’Neil, Global Legal Analyst, had a chance to connect with Tony and Darren ahead of the webinar. They discussed the latest Brexit news, where things are heading, and chatted about their careers in global immigration and mobility. Below are some of the highlights of that conversation.
Kent: “To kick things off, we might as well dispense with the elephant in the room. March 29 at 11pm… is Brexit going to happen?”
Tony: “Not likely at this point. As things stand now, it is hard to see a way to Brexit on 29 March. Parliament is just too divided.”
Darren: “I agree. At this point, I think we’re looking at an extension of the Article 50 deadline to probably the end of June. But with the EU Parliamentary elections, I don’t think the EU will agree to an extension beyond that.”
Kent: “So it looks like nothing may happen on 29 March… we push the deadline down the road to June. What happens then in June? Deal or no-deal?”
Darren: “No-deal seems the most likely scenario at this point.”
Tony: “Several months ago, I would have thought no-deal to be unlikely. But now, it is hard to see it being avoided. The EU is not going to budge on the backstop, and MPs appear set against it.”
Kent: “A lot has been made of the UK ‘crashing out’ of the EU with no-deal and the potential negative impact for business in the UK. Is the pain real? Or do you think it’s being overblown?”
Tony: “Oh, the pain is real. There is certainly going to be negative impact on many industry sectors, especially on supply chains.”
Darren: “Definitely. However, the thing to bear in mind is that we are now faced with two bad scenarios – a bad deal and a bad no-deal. Either way, there is going to be some significant challenges to business over the short and medium term until new arrangements are put in place.”
Tony: “In our field specifically, I believe the pain will be greater for those businesses that have come to rely heavily on lower skilled workers from the EU. Once freedom of movement ends, that source of labour dries up. Companies that are primarily bringing in higher skilled workers should be fine. The immigration process obviously becomes more of an issue, but there are still routes within our system to bring those higher skilled people to the UK.”
Kent: “So even if Brexit gets delayed, what you’re covering in the webinar is still all relevant?”
Darren: “Regardless of the timing of it, freedom of movement will end at some point. So the need to make sure your EU national employees and their families have their settled status is still vital. We’ve been preparing clients for Brexit and the potential impacts now for almost two years. That doesn’t change.”
Tony: “It’s almost hard to remember what our business was like before June 2016 (the Brexit referendum). It’s been such a major part of our daily activity since.”
Kent: “You mentioned the reality of the short and medium term pain. What’s the long-term look like?”
Darren: “Long-term for immigration and mobility, we will likely eventually get to almost a form of freedom of movement again as the UK and the various EU member states individually negotiate immigration and visa agreements. Down the road, I think we’ll see EU and UK nationals having relative freedom to go back and forth. But it will now take individual agreements between the countries to get there.”
Tony: “The white paper the government has published regarding the future of the UK’s immigration system generally calls for EU nationals to come under the current immigration routes. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if in the long-term there were a route specifically designated for EU nationals, recognising the close ties that will still exist between the UK and EU. We already see some of that thinking with the three-year temporary visa for EU nationals being proposed to preserve freedom of movement through December 2020.”
It is immediately obvious in speaking with both Tony and Darren that they have their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the business and political climate in the UK. They both clearly enjoy what they do, and together make a formidable team. I also found it fitting that they ended up as co-Managing Directors for Newland Chase’s UK business after uncannily similar career paths. Both Tony and Darren started their careers in immigration in the UK government’s Home Office, but just overlapping in the same office by one year. Darren’s tenure was ’91 to ’94, while Tony began in ’94, staying until ’99. Both left the home office to pursue private sector careers in corporate immigration at separate firms. They each achieved much success, rising to leadership positions in their respective firms. Each of their firms then later became part of Newland Chase, and their paths crossed again. Then in 2018, Tony and Darren were both appointed to their current positions as Newland Chase’s Managing Directors for the UK.
Kent: “When I talk to colleagues in our industry, I’m always interested to hear how they found their way into such a niche field. I have yet to find someone who says, ‘When I was a kid, I always dreamed of becoming a corporate immigration expert.’ Care to share a little of your story?”
Darren: “I guess I just fell into it. I was 19, needed a job. I lived near the Home Office, and they were hiring. So I just thought I’d give it a go. Now here I am almost 30 years later. I still get a buzz out of it… helping clients, seeing their careers and businesses succeed.”
Tony: “I wanted to be a fireman.”
Kent: “Seriously? That’s pretty far from corporate immigration.”
Tony: “Seriously. I applied, took the test, got the physical… and discovered I was colour-blind. So that was the end of my firefighting career. But the Home Office was hiring in the immigration department, so I took that. After a few years, when my family started growing (Tony has five children, now ages 7 to 21.) – I needed more money, so I went into the private side. Like Darren, I still enjoy it as much as I did twenty-some years ago.”
Kent: Something that comes through to me from both of you is… this business is more than application forms and deadlines and tiers and visas. This is personal for you, isn’t it?”
Darren: “Always. I think you are always conscious that it’s about serving people, that there is always someone on the other end of the process – a person, their career, their business, their family.”
Tony: “That’s what makes it rewarding.”
Kent: “You’re both Managing Directors now. And Newland Chase is now a large global organisation – 1700 employees, 60+ plus offices in 25 countries now, I think. You have more than a hundred employees in the London office alone. Are you really still able to keep that sense of personal touch?”
Tony: “Because it’s the part of the job that we both enjoy so much, and we both came up through the ranks doing hands-on case work, it’s easy to keep the personal side in mind. In the end, it’s always about the service… not necessarily being the biggest, but being the best at what you do.”
Darren: “We see it as having the best of both. With our size, we now have the global reach to serve our clients going to and from virtually anywhere in the world. But it is still about relationships. That doesn’t change. I think that’s what makes Newland Chase unique, that combination of global and personal.”
Kent: “When you’re not lying awake at night worrying about Brexit and your clients… what do you do to unwind?”
Darren: “I’m not sure if it’s unwinding or not… but I’m gardening and refurbishing of our new house. We moved houses recently, and that has been all my free time lately. But I do still make it to the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race each year.”
Tony: “I have a side gig as an Uber driver. Not professionally… but as Uber for my children. I still go to as many jazz concerts as I can.”
Kent: “I’ll obviously not be able to include all of our conversation in our blog. Hopefully, readers will register and attend the webinar next week and be able to get more of your insight on Brexit and the EU Settlement Scheme. But before I let you both go, I want to give you my stock fun interview question. I know you both told me how much you enjoy your work, but I’m going to ask you to stretch your imaginations. If tomorrow you won the EuroMillions lottery, and you could do anything with your career besides corporate immigration, what would you do?”
Darren: “That’s easy for me. I would open my own exotic cars business, specialising only in the very high-end, rare models… Bugatti, Ferrari, etc. I’ve always had a passion for cars, but not the budget.”
Tony: “I’d be Miles Davis…a professional jazz trumpet player. I played in a jazz band in school, but it would be a dream to do that professionally.”
Get more insight from Tony and Darren on Brexit, its impact on corporate immigration and mobility in the UK, and how employers can support their EU national employees through all the changes... watch the webinar here – Remaining in the UK after Brexit: Essential Settlement Guidance for EU Nationals.
Newland Chase, a wholly owned subsidiary of CIBT, is the leading global provider of immigration and visa services for corporations and individuals with over 1,700 expert immigration and visa professionals, attorneys and qualified migration consultants located in over 60 offices in 25 countries.
With thirty years of experience, CIBT is the primary service provider to 75% of Fortune 500 companies. CIBT offers a comprehensive suite of services under two primary brands: Newland Chase, focused on global immigration strategy and advisory services for corporations worldwide and CIBTvisas, the market leader for business and other travel visa services for corporate and individual clients.