BREXIT: Switzerland To Apply Separate Work Permit Quota for British Citizens in “No-Deal” Scenario

February 13, 2019

The Swiss Federal Council has decided that, in the event of the UK’s disorderly exit from the EU (i.e., without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement), a separate quota of work permits will be made available from 30 March 2019 to British citizens who wish to enter Switzerland to work.

The quota, which in this scenario will apply between 30 March 2019 and 31 December 2019, includes 2100 B long-term permits and 1400 L short-term permits. The cantons will be notified on a quarterly basis of the maximum numbers they are allowed to admit.

This is not applicable to British citizens already legally residing and working in Switzerland, who will be protected by the citizens’ rights agreement.

Citizens’ Rights Agreement

The Swiss Federal Council and the UK government have approved an agreement protecting the rights of Swiss nationals currently residing in the UK and the reciprocal rights of UK nationals currently residing in Switzerland, after the UK leaves the EU, either with or without a ratified withdrawal agreement.

The agreement protects rights in relation to residency, social security and the recognition of professional qualifications which are currently provided by the Free Movement of Persons Agreement (FMOPA), and enters into force on 1 January 2021 in a deal scenario (after the transition period), or on 30 March 2019 in a no-deal scenario. Please see our more detailed report on the agreement here.

Mind the Gap

At present, relations between Switzerland and the UK are largely based on bilateral agreements with the European Union, which will cease to apply to the UK after its withdrawal from the EU (possibly after a transition period).

The Swiss Federal Council has stated that it wishes to ensure that the existing mutual rights and obligations in its relationship with the UK will continue to apply as far as possible after the UK leaves the EU, and to expand them where necessary (Mind the Gap strategy).

Our Advice

Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact their Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, Switzerland or any EU member state, please contact us.