Bilateral post-Brexit agreement gains approval

12 Feb 19

SWITZERLAND, UNITED KINGDOM

IMPACT – HIGH

What is the Brexit news? The Swiss Federal Council has approved a bilateral Swiss-U.K. agreement that will administer the status of U.K. nationals in Switzerland and Swiss nationals in the U.K.

What does the news mean? The effective date of the agreement depends on the outcome of negotiations between the EU and the U.K.

  • If a deal is reached, the Swiss-U.K. agreement will enter into force after the transition period ends on Dec. 31, 2020.
  • If no deal is reached, the Swiss-U.K. agreement will enter into force on March 30, 2019.

Key points of the Swiss-U.K. agreement:

  • Work authorization. U.K. nationals registered in Switzerland and Swiss nationals registered in the U.K. before the Swiss-U.K. agreement goes into force, as well as their dependents, will preserve their status under the EU-Swiss Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (FMOPA).The agreement also covers cross-border workers in both countries, such as G-permit holders working in Switzerland.
  • Permanent residence. U.K. nationals already residing in Switzerland and Swiss nationals already residing in the U.K. will remain eligible for permanent residence after five years of legal residence, as under current rules.
  • Post-Brexit arrivals. Dependents of U.K. and Swiss nationals already residing in their respective host country who arrive after the Swiss-U.K. agreement goes into effect will also fall under the scope of the FMOPA. U.K. and Swiss nationals who arrive in their respective host country after the effective date will require work authorization possibly involving labor market testing and a residence permit. In Switzerland, the entry and exit of U.K. nationals and their family members will be regulated by the Schengen rules.

Background: While many EU member states are currently establishing unilateral measures to protect U.K. citizens’ rights under a no-deal Brexit, Switzerland must take a bilateral approach to its Brexit planning, as the country’s immigration regime does not fully fall under EU mobility regulations. Switzerland is not part of the EU but is a member of Schengen, a peculiarity which distinguishes Switzerland’s immigration regime from that of its European neighbors.

Switzerland has established various bilateral agreements that support free movement to and from the country. Currently, relations between the U.K. and Switzerland are governed by FMOPA. After Brexit, the U.K. will no longer be an EU member and the agreement will not cover U.K. citizens.

Analysis & Comments: The agreement, if ratified by both countries, will provide some certainty to employers as well as to U.K. and Swiss nationals residing in each other’s country. While some post-Brexit and post-transition procedures remain unclear, it is likely that employees will be able to continue working and residing in their respective host country based on their current status. Employers should ensure that sufficient preparation is afforded to those nationals who will require work and residence permit in a post-Brexit scenario.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.