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City of London plans special visas for bankers

What the EU stands to lose from Brexit

London’s financial district is proposing a special new visa to ensure international workers aren’t shut out of the U.K. after the country leaves the European Union.

The new visa proposal, produced by PwC for the City of London, argues that U.K. work visas should be granted based on regional business needs.

“International businesses will still require access to the brightest and the best candidates in order to remain competitive globally,” said Julia Onslow-Cole, head of global immigration at PwC. “The regional visa system is a mechanism to specifically address skill shortages.”

London — which boasts the biggest financial center in Europe — has strong ties to Europe and the continental banking system. It’s also home to the largest proportion of foreign-born residents in the U.K.

The city’s economy is expected to suffer as the U.K. pushes ahead with Brexit plans. It has a lot to lose if the separation curtails European trade and immigration to the U.K.

Related: Brexit is becoming a big fat mess

The pain will be particularly acute in the financial district — which is called the City of London. Nearly a third of workers in the district come from abroad, and about 12% come from Europe.

london bankers visa
Over one in ten workers in London’s financial district are European migrants.

PwC estimates that about three-quarters of European workers in the U.K. would not be allowed to stay after Brexit, based on the current visa system. Its proposal is designed to help sectors that depend on European workers, including banks, healthcare, agriculture and construction.

If the new regional visa system is put in place, businesses would be expected to demonstrate to the government that they originally tried to recruit British workers before hiring international employees.

The U.K. voted in late June to leave the European Union. But the exit process will take years.

The vote resulted in a sharp drop in the value of the pound. It’s now trading at $1.22, down 18% since the vote.