Global Employer Services News February 2021

News and current developments on work and residence permits


From 1 January 2021, UK nationals will no longer be considered EU nationals and the residence regime in Switzerland will no longer be governed by the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (FMPA). As of January, the provisions of the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA) will apply.

What will change for UK nationals and their families in Switzerland

The new regulation is that Swiss authorities can request an extract from the criminal record when an application is made. Criminal offences committed by UK nationals will be judged in accordance with the provisions of the FNIA and, in the event of a conviction, the criminal law provisions on expulsion will apply. In addition, family reunification will also be regulated according to the FNIA five years after the FMPA ceases to apply. Since this regulation is stricter, it must be proven that sufficient financial means are available to pay for the living expenses of the family members.

UK nationals in possession of a Swiss permit before 31 December 2020

A short stay or residence permit EU/EFTA as well as cross-border commuter and permanent residence permits EU/EFTA already acquired before the end of 2020 will remain unchanged and permit holders do not have to do anything proactively.

It is possible that UK nationals with a valid permit will be asked to exchange their permit card for a biometric foreigner's identity card including the remark "In accordance with the CH-UK agreement of 25.02.2019". This does not change the existing residence entitlements. If no request for exchange is made, the permit will be changed upon renewal.

UK Nationals taking up a job in Switzerland after 1 January 2021

Jobs starting after January 2021 fall under the provisions for third-country nationals.
This means:

  • The simplified notification procedure for assignments of up to 90 days with a Swiss employment contract no longer applies.
  • The Swiss employer must apply for a work permit in advance.
  • UK nationals are still exempt from the visa requirement.
  • The following requirements must be met cumulatively in order to obtain a work permit:
    • The permit must be in the overall economic interest of Switzerland
    • Only managers, specialists and otherwise highly qualified workers are approved
    • Priority must be given to Swiss nationals
    • The wage and working conditions customary in the location, profession and industry must be complied with.

UK Service Providers / Secondees starting an assignment after 1 January 2021

In December 2020, the Federal Council approved a further agreement on the mobility of service providers between Switzerland and the UK. Under this agreement, the online registration procedure can still be used for temporary stays of up to 90 days per calendar year and no prior labour market assessment is required. The agreement is initially limited to two years.

Quotas for UK Nationals as of 1 January 2021

​UK nationals will be subject to quotas from 1 January 2021 and employers must apply in advance to the competent authority for a work permit. Up to 3500 workers can be recruited from the UK. You can find more information here.

Stephanie Mueller