Agreement on Work Permits Requirements in Case of No-Deal Brexit

Swiss and British negotiators have been uniting their efforts to cushion the effects of a likely no-deal Brexit.

On 10 July 2019, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Stephen Barclay and Federal Concillor Karin Keller-Sutter signed a temporary Agreement granting their respective citizens facilitated access to the labour market for a transitional period in case of a disorderly Withdrawal.

1. Agreement on Work Permits Requirements in Case of No-Deal Brexit

This Agreement follows and completes the Agreement on citizens' rights signed on 25 February 2019, which protects the acquired rights of Swiss and British residents after Brexit (see Immigration: UK and Switzerland prepared for no-deal Brexit).

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons would cease to apply to the UK on Withdrawal date (currently set on 31 January 2020) and the new Agreement would come into effect. This Agreement takes into account recent historical patterns of labour mobility between the two countries. It would allow UK workers to gain admission to Switzerland's labour market in similar numbers until December 2020.

2. Facilitated Admission to Labour Market

Formally, Switzerland would still apply quotas, as required by national law. However, a special quota will be set for Britons, which shall "take into account" the actual demand for UK workers. As for Swiss law's individual requirements for the admission of third-party nationals, they will not apply during the transitional period, which means it will not be necessary to file long and complicated applications. The Agreement also facilitates admission of self-employed persons and of those frontier workers not covered by the Agreement on citizen's rights.

Reciprocally, Swiss nationals who wish to work in the UK will benefit from arrangements at least as favourable as those offered to UK nationals in Switzerland.

The Federal Council has opened consultation proceedings on the Agreement. The enactment of the Agreement in Switzerland will take some time. Therefore, the parties have agreed to provisionally apply the new agreement after the withdrawal date until it formally comes into force.