Member in spotlight Vesna Collins VC Legal UK

Member in spotlight Vesna Collins VC Legal UK

His royal highness Crown Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević, Mrs. Vesna Collins and Sir Paul Judge (The BSCC Chairman 2012–2017)

Just recently, it has been ten years since you have become a member of The British-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (BSCC). Since 2023, you have been our Board Director. Today, with over a decade of experience, how do you see the role of BSCC in bridging enterprises and individuals from the UK and Serbia?

Mrs. Collins: 

I was honoured to be nominated as a Board Director for the British Chamber of Commerce, established in 2008 with offices in London and Belgrade. Since becoming a London-based member more than ten years ago and a Board member since last year, I have witnessed its expansion and ever-growing contribution to the development of bilateral trade between the UK and Serbia. Recently published figures showing an increase in trade are astonishing.

Our members are now among the most reputable and successful companies and private individuals from the UK and Serbia. In December, the BSCC opened a new representative office in Belgrade in the presence of His Excellency the British Ambassador, Edward Ferguson.

The BSCC organises and participates in many events, trade missions, and conferences that provide an excellent networking platform for both companies and individual members, creating business opportunities that can bridge the two countries. Needless to say, the BSCC has acquired recognition not only on a bilateral basis but also in the Western Balkans.

I will mention some UK events I attended that demonstrate how the BSCC promotes different sectors in the UK. For tourism, we participated in the Food and Beverage Fair in London. For the financial/investor sector, we organised a BSCC reception during the EBRD Western Balkans  Investment Summit.

In education, the BSCC ethos is that young people are the future, so providing support and mentoring to young people is very important. Every year, we attend the Cambridge Pexim Annual dinner, where I meet many talented Serbian students and guide them through the maze of the UK immigration rules. Many more successful events & conferences are advertised on the British–Serbian Chamber of Commerce website. 

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Furthermore, the BSCC takes responsibility for supporting different charitable events. 

A couple of weeks ago, Peter Orlic and I attended a St Sava's Charitable ball organized by the Njegos Foundation in London.

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From the left: Mr. Novak Bojović, Mrs. Vesna Collins, Mr. Petar Orlić the BSCC Deputy Chairman

The BSCC's expansion of activities and remarkable progress can be attributed to the committed leadership, particularly Jadranka Dervisevic Kitaric Executive Director of BSCC, who has been a driving force behind the BSCC since I joined.

So, there are ample opportunities for enterprises and individuals to benefit from membership in the BSCC, and we invite and warmly welcome all new members.

Serbia has experienced intensive economic development in the last ten years. Many foreign organisations and companies are opening offices or starting businesses in Serbia. Despite the economic power and influence of the UK, foreign investments in Serbia are mostly from other countries. In which sector should Serbia be promoted as a preferred destination for UK companies and investors?

Mrs. Collins: 

Yes, Serbia is witnessing a great expansion and interest from many foreign companies and investors. Starting from the investment in the Belgrade Waterfront - property, infrastructure, and hospitality are clearly booming, as well as technology and innovation.  It all comes down to Serbia's geographic position, natural resources, and ability to trade with EU and non-EU countries in the Balkans. Serbia also has favourable tax laws to promote FDI, and experts will be able to promote Serbia's best values to attract foreign investors, including the UK.

You are one of the leading authorities in the field of UK Immigration Law. Could you share with us your view on any important legal changes after Brexit?

Mrs. Collins

I was privileged to be invited by the BSCC to speak at a conference discussing the impact of Brexit on UK immigration law. This is undoubtedly a significant topic, if you would like to learn more about the topic, please watch the webinar  "WORKING, INVESTING, TRADING AFTER 1ST JANUARY OF 2021: THE STATE OF PLAY BETWEEN THE UK AND SERBIA"


In brief, one of the most important changes is that all EU and non-EU citizens are now subject to the same immigration rules regarding visa requirements. This understandably opens up opportunities for more foreign migrants from around the world to find a sponsor and work in the UK.

Vice versa, the introduction of UK Global Mobility Visas in April 2022 created a pathway for overseas businesses wishing to trade, transfer staff, open branches, or expand into the UK. We have assisted many companies in obtaining a sponsorship license to sponsor migrant workers from abroad, as well as students and other applicants wishing to change their status in the country.

Therefore, there are opportunities for Serbian and other companies to relocate staff, expand their business, or open branches in the UK. Global mobility visas do not lead into settlement status but create an excellent opportunity to establish a presence in the UK market.

Lastly, to mention that the UK immigration law is subject to frequent changes, so seeking legal guidance is advisable.

Immigration from Serbia to the UK was not very frequent in the past, although knowledge of the English language was widespread in the younger Serbian population. Do you see any changes in these trends in the future?

Mrs. Collins: 

Absolutely, I can see significant changes in these trends. Historically, many jobs in the UK have been filled by EU nationals; however, after Brexit when UK’s participation in EU freedom of movement ended, the UK immigration system started to treat EU citizens and non -EU citizens in a same way.

On January 1st 2021, a new Points-Bases System was introduced that created equal opportunities for all nationals. Another significant change was that the Resident Labour Market Test has been abolished and the eligibility requirement for skilled workers to hold a degree has also been removed, as the UK recognizes that there are many occupations facing shortages of workers. Cumulatively, these changes open up more opportunities for foreign migrants, including Serbian nationals, to find a sponsor and work in the UK. Needless to say, the application process is the same for all.

Our members and colleagues will have a chance to meet you in person at the Kopaonik Business Forum at the beginning of March. This is a great opportunity for networking and gathering many successful individuals. Is there any topic of the Forum that is of greater interest to you?

Mrs. Collins: 


The Kopaonik Business Forum is a high-profile event dedicated to improving the Serbian economy. The presence of the BSCC at such an event is important. As a BSCC Board director, I am looking forward to listening to discussions by Serbian politicians, corporate leaders, economists, and journalists on issues and strategies for Serbia's development, as well as meeting the BSCC members. There are many interesting topics, from AI and advanced technologies to one of the most globally popular topics, climate change's impact on the economy and society, which has captured my attention this year. So, let us see how this works in reality and hope that we have some snow on Kopaonik during the Business Forum.

On February 15th it is Serbia's Statehood Day  - Sretenje, what can you tell us about it? 

Mrs. Collins: 

February 15th holds twofold importance for the modern Serbian state. It is one of the most culturally and historically significant days for Serbia, marking the first Serbian Uprising in 1804, which evolved into the Serbian Revolution against Ottoman rule. It is also when the first Serbian Constitution, a progressive agreement aiming to protect human rights, was adopted as the first modern Serbian Constitution in 1835, and one of the most modern of its time.

Happy Statehood Day to all BSCC members! 

We also take this opportunity to invite our members to meet the BSCC team at the Kopaonik Business Forum or our new office in Downtown Belgrade (Vuka Karadžića 7).

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