PwC joins forces with American immigration lawyers

04 October 2018 5 min. read
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PwC has penned an agreement with immigration law experts Fragomen. The strategic alliance will see the US legal firm partner with PwC as clients on both sides of the Atlantic prepare for a tumultuous period, with Brexit and the Trump administration set to see immigration bureaucracy increase substantially for people and businesses alike.

The decision to leave the EU has created considerable consternation across a broad section of British society. A tumultuous negation period, hamstrung by a period of political uncertainty following June’s election, has delivered an environment of considerable anxiety for both EU-migrant labour, and the business community dependent on their skill sets to create wealth. With ‘hard Brexit’ still very much on the cards, the present deal currently favoured by Prime Minister Theresa May will see free movement and trade between the UK and the mainland come to an end.

This presents both EU citizens and businesses a considerable headache. While EU citizens who arrived before the culmination of Brexit are currently told they will maintain their previous rights, episodes such as the Windrush scandal – which saw many people originating largely from the Caribbean who had lived in the UK wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in around 63 cases wrongly deported – it has become increasingly difficult to judge the certainty of such pledges. At the same time, many businesses are facing major shortages in staffing, particularly thanks to the arbitrary manner in which “skilled migrants” are set to be determined in the new, targeted migration system to and from the EU.

PwC joins forces with American immigration lawyers

In this apprehensive atmosphere, demand for legal services relating to immigration is set to boom. The legal wing of Big Four professional services firm PwC has already been expanding its global immigration practice on the back of increased demand, with multinationals seeking to secure talent need to meet more stringent migration requirements, while companies seeking to lower tax costs need to better understand the savings available through moving staff around. Now the British branch of PwC has entered into a strategic partnership with the American law firm Fragomen, which specializes in migration law. The offices promise their clients composite teams of professionals from both companies, so that specialist legal services provided by Fragomen can be supplemented by accompanying services from PwC, for example in the field of tax advice.

Established in 1951, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy is an international immigration firm with headquarters in New York and specialised in providing a range of immigration law services to corporate and individual clients. It is recognised as the world's largest firm that focuses its practice solely on global immigration law. Fragomen has more than 50 offices in more than 25 countries, including 16 in the US – a nation also facing upheaval in terms of its immigration policy, with the administration of President Donald Trump seeking to create a hostile atmosphere for those looking to arrive in the States.

PwC and Fragomen stated that they are responding to geopolitical developments, in which immigration law is playing an increasingly important role, as companies face more challenges in the field of immigration, as they say in a joint statement. Also assignments and placements with a longer duration are increasingly replaced by short and frequent business trips, according to the companies. PwC hopes that the cooperation will also provide better insight into the effects of individual countries' government policy on business migration and mobility.

Julia Onslow-Cole, PwC UK Partner and Head of PwC's Global Immigration Practice, said, “We are proud of our global immigration practice, which covers more than 170 countries. Making our respective immigration teams available to clients, particularly in the US, will provide an even deeper level of local insight. The PwC and Fragomen alliance will also facilitate more strategic, global insights on the impact of Government policies on both corporate immigration and mobility.”

Austin T. Fragomen Junior, Chairman of the Executive Committee for Fragomen, added, “Immigration strategy and compliance has never been more important in the mobility environment. Clients seeking aggregated legal, tax and mobility services will get best-in-class services by working with Fragomen and PwC. Our immigration legal expertise, coupled with PwC’s professional services offerings, will give clients an unparalleled opportunity to benefit from a unique collaboration that will help them better manage mobility and mitigate risk in a fast-changing compliance environment.”

The news fits into a trend in which the world’s largest four auditing and advisory firms are increasingly advancing into the field of legal services. The quartet could draw $30 billion from legal services, were they to fully expand into the market, while a recent survey has found that 69% of law firms see Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY as major threats to their market share, following successful forays into a host of other segments by the gang of four. Deloitte also recently concluded deals with migration lawyers.

Related: London remains globe's top working city for migrant workers.