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Brexit: The impact on immigration from a Swiss perspective

Mirela Stoia Director PwC Legal, PwC Switzerland 21 Feb 2019

The UK is an important partner for Switzerland in many areas, including migration. Switzerland 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.
Deal, or no deal? What happens next?

Deal scenario
In the event of a ‘Deal scenario’ and therefore if the UK leaves the EU on the basis of a withdrawal agreement, the current provisions of the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) will continue to apply between Switzerland and the UK during the transitional period (until end of 2020). 

For the period after December 2020, there are talks under way on a possible bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the UK that would permit derogations from the admission requirements stipulated in the Swiss Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA).

No deal scenario
In the event of a ‘No deal scenario’, the AFMP would no longer apply between Switzerland and the UK from 30 March 2019.

What does this mean for: 

  • UK citizens already in Switzerland

    In December 2018, the Federal Council approved an agreement with the UK on the rights of citizens following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU that aims to safeguard the rights of Swiss and UK citizens acquired under the AFMP. This Agreement will come into force after the transitional period (i.e. probably on 1 January 2021) in the event of the ‘Deal scenario’ or on 30 March 2019 in the event of the ‘No deal scenario’. 
  • UK citizens entering Switzerland after 30 March 2019 

    In principle, the same rights as third country citizens would be granted. However, at its session on 13 February 2019, the Swiss Federal Government decided to introduce a quota of 3'500 permits as a temporary measure to allow UK citizens to work in Switzerland from 30 March until 31 December 2019. The exact work permit application procedure still needs to be defined.
In brief   
  • The rights acquired so far under the AFMP shall be safeguarded.
  • In the event of a ‘Deal scenario’: there will be a transitional period until end of 2020 safequarding the rights acquired under the AFMP. For the period after the transition, Switzerland and the UK are currently in discussions regarding a bilateral agreement to facilitate the admission of UK nationals to the Swiss labour market.
  • In the event of a ‘No deal scenario’, the Swiss businesses should continue to be able to recruit UK workers. However, a separate quota of permits will be made available for UK workers wishing to take up employment in Switzerland and the exact work permit application process still needs to be defined. 

For help with navigating how Brexit will impact your business, please contact PwC Switzerland's immigration team at visa@ch.pwc.com.

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Contact us

Mirela Stoia

Mirela Stoia

Director PwC Legal, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 91 16

Ara Samuelian

Ara Samuelian

Tax Director, Head of Immigration, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 19 95