Working In Switzerland Post-Brexit

With around 43,000 UK nationals living and working in Switzerland and with a number of multinationals and NGO’S having their European headquarters based there it is important to be up to speed with what the Rules will be post-Brexit for UK citizens to work in Switzerland. These Rules have recently been set:

The News

The Swiss Federal Council approved on 17 April a temporary agreement with the United Kingdom on access to the Swiss labour market. The agreement will apply in the event of the UK’s disorderly departure from the EU. In such a scenario simplified requirement for working in either country would be introduced for a limited transition period until December 31 December 2020. 

The Background 

In the event of the UK’s disorderly withdrawal from the EU, the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) will no longer apply. This means that UK citizens entering Switzerland for the first time and wishing to settle will be treated like other non-EU/EFTA nationals, with the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA) being applicable to discern the requirements. If however, the UK leaves the EU on the basis of a withdrawal agreement, the current provisions of the AFMP will continue to apply between Switzerland and the UK during a transitional period which is expected to last until the end of 2020. 

The Effect

In order to safeguard the interests of the Swiss economy with regard to the recruitment of British workers in case of a disorderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the temporary agreement would introduce simplified access for UK nationals to the Swiss labour market for a limited period. In practice, this would mean dispensing with checks on professional qualifications and waiving the precedence given to workers already resident in Switzerland as well as waiving the consideration given to the interests of the economy as a whole. There would also be a temporary waiver of the need for federal government approval for cantonal permits. Wage levels and working conditions, however, would still be checked. As already decided on March 22nd, 2019, separate quotas for UK nationals would apply during the transition period. 

For Swiss nationals intending to work in the UK the agreement enables a stay in the UK for up to three months without needing a permit. If they wish to stay for longer than three months, registration is required upon which a residence permit for three years will be issued. This will be under a new scheme introduced by the UK known as European Temporary Leave To Remain. After the 3-year period, Swiss nationals will need to switch immigration status in accordance with The Rules in place at that time. 

The date the Agreement Comes Into Force

The Federal Council approved the agreement at its meeting on April 17 2019. Before signing it, however, the Federal Council will consult the relevant parliamentary committees regarding the provisional application of the agreement. The earliest possible date it will become law is June 1 2019.

Paragon Law are UK immigration law specialists and are retained by a number of businesses to manage global mobility programmes including the setting up of subsidiaries and the transfer of personnel across the globe. We do this by working with niche immigration law partners in the host country. We would like to thank our Swiss partners, Blue Lake Legal with their assistance in writing this article.

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