Leading employers of the British financial sector (called City of London) are furious about the limits being imposed by the government on the number of non-EU citizens that they are able to employ and are urging a dramatic rethink of the government's policy.
The financial district prides itself on its cosmopolitan workforce and is concerned that the quotas on migrants being set by the coalition will make it impossible for them to keep operating effectively.
Firms were told the implications of the policy by the government last week. Industry sources said that some top City companies believe they will be restricted to hiring as few as six non-EU nationals during the remainder of the year.
The immigration policy is being introduced at the same time the City is moaning about unpopular taxes and the Financial Services Authority's warning that 2,500 City companies would be covered by its bonus tax. Some experts reckon all these factors together could make London a less attractive location for major international firms.
Stuart Fraser, chairman of the Corporation of London's policy committee, said: "With all these things, it's as if we're saying if you're talented in finance, don't come here." He felt that the individuals currently being affected – highly skilled, high-earning taxpayers – were not the ones the restrictions were aimed at.
Employers' body the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said it was in dialogue with the Home Office over the migration caps while the City's trade body, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe, said its members were worried: "There is a concern that it will become more difficult to move people around their businesses on a global basis."
The CBI was reluctant to criticise government policy, saying it "remains of the view that a managed migration policy which meets the skill needs of the economy can operate within a cap on immigration".