Switzerland and Brexit: What You Need to Know as of January 2021
| Ana Bessa Santos

Switzerland and Brexit: What You Need to Know as of January 2021

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In 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. After much speculation on how the situation would evolve, and what measures would be put in place over the course of the coming years, a transition period had been agreed until 31 December 2020. From a Swiss perspective, this has meant that the UK continued to benefit from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), which applied until now between the UK and Switzerland.

As we enter the new year, many questions are mounting on what will happen in 2021. This blog provides a short overview on what is defined from an immigration perspective by the Swiss Government.

As of the 1 January 2021, UK nationals are no longer considered EU citizens. This means that UK nationals who wish to live and work in Switzerland as of the beginning of the year will now be governed by the same terms as third country nationals, i.e. the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA).

Existing rights secured for UK nationals

In December 2018 the Federal Council and UK government approved the agreement on protecting and securing the rights of UK nationals until 31 December 2020 and vice-versa. This agreement safeguarded the existing work and residence rights that were previously obtained such as residence with or without a work activity, the right for family reunion or employment in Switzerland as cross-border commuter.

What has changed? Quotas for UK nationals 

Switzerland has a quota system in place applicable to work permits for non-EU/EFTA nationals. The Federal Council has decided to make separate quotas available to UK nationals.

There will be 2,100 B residence permits and 1,400 L short-term residence permits available for the year 2021. These quotas are released on a quarterly basis and are jointly available to all Swiss cantons.

The quotas are released to the cantons and UK applications will be considered at the cantonal level only, and therefore do not need any approval from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). It is important to note that this arrangement is only valid for 2021 and may change in 2022. As such, it is possible that quotas for UK nationals will be integrated into the quotas for Non-EU/EFTA nationals in the future.

Notification Procedure for Switzerland (Posted Worker Notification)

On 4 December 2020 the Federal Council also approved an agreement between Switzerland and the UK on the reciprocal provision of services, which in this case facilitates and allows UK service providers to still use the notification procedure for up to 90 days to work in Switzerland. This provision is limited to two years, but may be extended on both parties’ agreement.

We will continue to update you on the developments of the available quotas and other immigration related topics. If you have any questions about the topic explained above, please contact me at [email protected], or any immigration professional on our Swiss Immigration Team at [email protected].

This blog was published on 6 January 2021, and due to the circumstances, there are frequent changes. To keep up to date with all the latest updates on global immigration, please visit our COVID-19 microsite, subscribe to our alerts and follow us on LinkedIn.