Brexit: Consequences for British Citizens under Swiss Immigration Law

Immigration Law, Brexit, Consequences, Work Permit, Visa, UK Nationals

The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union will enter into force on March 29, 2019. With the withdrawal of British citizens, the freedom of movement within the EU area will also lapse if the United Kingdom and the EU fail to negotiate an agreement. The fact that British citizens will no longer be EU nationals from the beginning of April 2019 also has an impact on the residence and immigration regime in Switzerland for them and for British citizens who wish to work in Switzerland.

On December 19, 2018, the Federal Council reacted by adopting an agreement with the United Kingdom on the rights of Swiss and British citizens in the event of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU. The agreement protects the rights acquired under the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), such as residence rights, social benefits and the recognition of professional qualifications. The agreement shall apply to Swiss citizens residing in the United Kingdom and to British citizens residing in Switzerland. However, it does not apply to persons who immigrate to Switzerland or the United Kingdom after the Brexit or discontinuation of the AFMP.

For them, it is crucial whether there is a "hard" Brexit, or whether there is an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU with an agreement, the AFMP would continue to apply between Switzerland and the United Kingdom during a transitional phase (probably until the end of 2020). In case of a "hard" or disorderly Brexit, British citizens would in principle be treated in the same way as other third-country nationals and would thus have to comply with the provisions of the Foreigner Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA). In order to maintain close bilateral relations with the United Kingdom, however, the Federal Council decided at its meeting on February 13, 2019, to introduce a temporary separate quota for employed British citizens amounting to a total of 3500 units, including 2100 residence permits (B) and 1400 short-stay permits (L). Those maximum numbers would apply from March 30 to December 31, 2019.

By the end of March 2019, the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) will prepare the revision of the Ordinance on Admission, Period of Stay and Employment (ASEO) and submit it to the Federal Council for a final decision.

Discussions are also currently taking place on a possible bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the United Kingdom, which would allow a temporary derogation from certain FNIA admission requirements.

The Federal Council's press release of February 13, 2019, can be found here: Press release

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February 2019 | Authors: Michèle Stutz, Martina Aepli, Manuela Fuchs, Andrea Voëlin, Raffael Blattmann und Nadine Küng

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