SWITZERLAND - Brexit - Safeguarding residence rights through agreement
A Brexit-agreement on the rights of citizens after the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (EU) was approved in December 2018 by the Federal Council. This step was taken as part of the "Mind the Gap" strategy, with which the Federal Council intends to secure rights already acquired based on the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (FMPA) by way of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.
After the UK has left the EU, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and the EU will no longer apply. The approved agreement is intended to provide legal certainty and secure already acquired residence rights, social security entitlements and recognition of professional qualifications. The immigration requirements of British nationals after the abolition of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons is not regulated in the agreement.
Implementation of the agreement
There are two scenarios for the entry into force of the agreement:
- Leaving the EU with a withdrawal agreement: 1 January 2021
If the withdrawal agreement is approved and brought into force on 29 March 2019, the existing provisions of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons will apply during a transitional phase (until the end of 2020 for the time being).
- Leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement: 30 March 2019
Without approval of the withdrawal agreement, a disorderly withdrawal will take place on 29 March 2019. As of 30 March 2019, the current rights will no longer be applicable.
Changes for British nationals in Switzerland after the abolition of the FMPA
After the abolition of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, UK citizens will no longer be able to take advantage of the preferential market access and can no longer obtain the simplified notification procedure. Applications for residency will be examined based on the legal situation under the Aliens and Integration Act and are subject to quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals. In the case of local employment, it must also be proven that priority has been given to Swiss and EU nationals.
Timeline until final decision
Before signing the agreement, the Federal Council will consult the competent committees of the Federal Assembly. The final decision is expected by the end of the month.
BDO in Switzerland is happy to support you in applying for work- and residence permits for Switzerland and consult you on the changing legislation.