A specialist in UK immigration law has been awarded a Brexit consultancy contract by a global producer of ethically-sourced handmade cosmetics.
Lush required the expertise of GBS UK Immigration, a business working out of Portsmouth Technopole, because more than half of its 1,000 workforce at its factory in Poole, Dorset, are from overseas.
By the same token, British nationals working at the company’s production and retail units in the EU need similar up-to-date guidance over citizenship rights.
Lush has grown from a single shop in Poole over 22 years to become a major brand with more than 18,500 employees and 932 shops in 49 countries.
The company, headquartered in Poole, is utilising the expertise of Victoria Girsa, a director at the South Coast office of GBS UK Immigration.
Victoria, an Eastern European with Latvian and British dual citizenship, is providing concerned employees with immigration status advice in dozens of sessions in Poole, London and Dusseldorf, Germany.
She said: “There is a lot of conflicting advice out there in the wake of the Brexit result, leaving nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes the EU, confused and worried about where they stand legally with residency rights.
“Many of them are hoping to qualify for settled status which would provide them with the same rights as British citizens after the Brexit.
“The new UK Government proposal on EU nationals’ rights in the UK post-Brexit, published on June 26, 2017, creates more questions than provides answers and adds to the confusion and uncertainty of what EU nationals should do.
“Each case is unique and requires professional legal advice regarding paperwork, documentation and application updates from the Home Office.
“We are repeatedly hearing that some staff are being advised what to do by family and friends, but failure to obtain the right advice could result in applications being refused and immigration records being tarnished, thus impacting on the ability to remain in the UK or re-enter in the future.”
Victoria, who speaks fluent English, Latvian, Polish and Russian in the staff sessions, is also involved in drawing up guides, flowcharts and short how-to-videos to help affected Lush workers determine their status and what needs to be done if they want to remain in the UK.
A spokesperson for Lush said: “Freedom of movement is integral to Lush as a business, allowing us to put the right people in the right positions regardless of nationality and forge equal relationships with suppliers in remote areas of the world.
“With the help of Victoria and her colleagues at GBS UK Immigration, we are taking steps to support staff members affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU as we navigate this complex political situation together.”
GBS UK Immigration, which has set up at Portsmouth Technopole, the serviced offices centre near Portsmouth International Port, provides fixed-fee UK immigration advice.
The recently-launched firm, which also has an office in Halifax, West Yorkshire, provides a range of services and is regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
GBS UK Immigration has advisers that are accredited to OISC Level 3, which is the highest level of accreditation, enabling the firm to assist in matters from basic immigration advice to more complex matters, including appeals.
Pete Outen is the centre manager at Portsmouth Technopole, which is located at Kingston Crescent, just off the M275, and is utilised by nearly 60 businesses.
He said: “Economic immigrants from the EEA may well be anxious about what the Brexit future holds for their residency status and it must be reassuring for Lush and other companies that Victoria and her colleagues are on hand to provide professional advice to their employees.”
Portsmouth Technopole supports GBS UK Immigration with telephone answering and message services, reception services, mail handling, use of meeting and conference rooms and providing access to networking events and business support.
Owned by the University of Portsmouth, the centre is managed by UKSPA member Oxford Innovation, which runs 21 innovation centres across the country on behalf of freeholders and investors, with the emphasis on supporting start-ups and early-stage firms.
There are more than 1,000 businesses across all the centres.