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  • News and current developments on work and residence permits

    Brexit Update - What happens next?


News and current developments on work and residence permits

04 February 2020

After more than three years since the referendum of summer 2016, last Friday it finally happened: Great Britain has left the EU, but what happens next?

Interim period

At midnight (CET) on 31 January 2020, the UK's EU membership expired. A return to the Union is now only possible by formally re-applying for membership. With the withdrawal, however, an 11-month interim period begins, which may be extended. During this period, the free movement of persons will continue to apply and the British will remain within the internal market and the customs union. Until at least 31 December 2020, the provisions of the bilateral agreements with Switzerland-EU will continue to apply to relations between Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Securing existing rights of citizens

As part of Switzerland's «mind the gap strategy», a number of new agreements have already been concluded with the United Kingdom in order to uphold the rights and obligations of both countries. One of these agreements safeguards the already obtained rights of Swiss and British nationals, such as residency rights in Switzerland or the UK based on the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (FMPA) with the EU.

Temporary agreement ensures access to the labour market

In the event of a disorderly exit of the UK from the EU, a temporary agreement was approved in April 2019 to allow continued and uninterrupted access to the labour market. This agreement ensures that the conditions for admission to the labour market in the other country will be facilitated for a temporary transitional period. The interests of the Swiss economy with regard to the recruitment of British workers and the access of Swiss nationals to the British labour market are thus safeguarded.

Separate quotas for nationals of the United Kingdom

After the end of the interim period, separate quotas will apply to British nationals entering Switzerland for the purpose of gainful employment (learn more). Since the provisions of the FMPA will continue to apply during the interim period until at least 31.12.2020, these quotas will not currently apply.

The new agreements will be applicable at the end of the interim period. During this interim period, which is expected to last until the end of 2020, Switzerland will have the opportunity to develop alternative and sustainable solutions with the UK in the event that the actual bilateral agreements with Switzerland and the EU cease to apply.

The essentials in brief:

  • UK exit EU per 31.01.2020
  • Interim period until at least 31.12.2020
  • Residency rights already acquired remain in force
  • Regulation of residence and employment continues to be governed by the Free Movement of Persons Agreement (FMPA) like other EU states
  • Authorizations based on separate quotas after interim period