From 1 January 2021, UK citizens must meet the terms of the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA) and therefore will be treated like any other non-EU/EFTA citizen who wants to relocate to or work in Switzerland, unless an additional bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the UK is concluded. As a result, this will mainly have the following implications:
- Labor market testing/priority given to Swiss and EU employees: in order to hire a UK national locally, a Swiss employer would need to prove that no suitable EU or Swiss national could be found after running authentic recruitment efforts for at least 4 weeks. However, several months ago, Switzerland stated that it may well consider waiving this requirement for UK nationals. A final confirmation, however, is still pending.
- Quota: as per 2021, each UK national will be subject to quota. The Swiss Federal Council has created separate quotas (similar to the quotas for Croatian nationals) which are going to be distributed quarterly to the cantonal authorities as follows:
- Separate quotas totaling 3,500 for 2021
B-Permits: 2,100 per year
L-Permits: 1,400 per year
- Work and residence permit application: UK nationals will need to submit an application to the migration authorities which needs to be approved before taking up residency and work in Switzerland. At the moment, the cantonal authorities are still waiting for further information from the Swiss Federal Council on the exact process for UK citizens as of 1 January 2021. However, it is expected that UK citizens will be treated similarly to other non-EU/EFTA citizens from 1 January 2021 on. Based on the discussions we hold with the government, we expect that UK nationals will have to file a relatively lean work permit application and only be eligible for a permit if they are highly qualified (university degree or high specialization).
As a more exact process for UK nationals can only be expected towards the beginning of December 2020, we recommend collecting all documentation necessary in order to be prepared in case a formal application were to become necessary. However, starting work in early January 2021 - i.e. in the first week(s) of January 2021 - may even turn out to be impossible given the latent uncertainty regarding the concrete implementation of the Brexit implications and the little time left to clarify them during the remainder of the year 2020.
Most cantonal authorities have already confirmed that applications for UK citizens who will be hired on a Swiss local employment contract or an assignment contract may already be filed but that they can only be processed once the exact process applicable to UK citizens has been confirmed by the Swiss Federal Council and the related quotas have been released (i.e. 1 January 2021).