WORKING IN SWITZERLAND AFTER BREXIT
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WITH PERMITS?
AND WHAT ABOUT STAYING IN SWITZERLAND?
Switzerland is not in the EU, but it’s very closely allied to it.
So if you are British the relationship with Switzerland changed when the UK left the EU.
In fact there are 120 bilateral agreements between the Swiss and the EU, which keeps a huge amount of alignment between the small land-locked nation and the 27-nation bloc.
As a result Swiss work permit rules have had to change after Brexit.
So what happens next?
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
THE UK, AN EU NATION OR SOMEWHERE ELSE?
If you are from the UK then the laws effecting you have changed following January 1st 2021. That’s because Switzerland might be outside the EU, but it’s very closely aligned with the EU.
But if you are from the UK (or anywhere else outside the EU) you don’t need any permit for your course. Courses are under 90 days so you are effectively here as a tourist.
If you want to stay longer and perhaps work, then work permits aren’t as easy for UK passport-holders as they were before Brexit.
For non-EU and non-British trainees things haven’t changed – work permits have always been difficult for non-EU and non-Swiss trainees.
If you are from the EU (or, perhaps, hold an EU passport as well as a British one) then you also don’t need a permit for the course and getting a work permit is easy. So you can travel to Switzerland, train, work and there is no limit on the duration of your stay – even if you don’t work.
TAKING A COURSE IN SWITZERLAND
If you are from the UK, or anywhere else outside the EU, and you want to come and take a Peak Leaders Ski Instructor Training course in Switzerland then you don’t have anything to worry about.
Our courses are, at their longest, 70 days and currently all non-EU citizens can stay for up to 90 days (in any 180 day period) in the Schengen zone without a permit.
The Schengen zone is the free travel area that includes many EU nations as well as Switzerland.
So you can come to Verbier or Saas Fee, train and qualify with no issues.
STAYING LONGER – FOR WORK OR FUN
If you follow the rule above you can stay for 20 days after your course ends (assuming it’s a 70 day course) with no issue.
But of you want to stay beyond 90 days then you need to have a permit from the Swiss authorities.
Naturally, if you want to work then if you can get a work permit that will mean you can stay for the duration of your work.
You can also apply for student Visas and permits that allow you to train and also do some part-time work. This is an area that we are consulting the authorities about – so get in touch for the latest news.
WHAT ARE THE RULES ON WORK PERMITS FOR NON-EU CITIZENS?
This is where we are moving into the new rules if you are British – and the potential rules that could be coming…
Up until leaving the EU, a British person could apply for a Swiss work permit with no real issue. You just needed to complete a few formalities and prove you had Swiss health insurance.
But as a non-EU national it has become harder.
Non-EU nationals have always been limited to 90 days and to work needed to prove that they can do something that no EU or Swiss person can do. Which is a big ask.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Before the UK left the EU the Swiss and British had already agreed a few key things about workers rights.
Without getting into details, they basically agreed people already on a permit would be allowed to stay in Switzerland.
They also agreed that UK companies could send workers to Switzerland to work (this isn’t a solution for ski schools, but it’s an indicator of the desire within Switzerland to keep a flow of workers).
However, the Swiss have not agreed that British citizens can work for a Swiss company (or ski school) without proving they do something now one else can offer.
Well, not yet…
CAN THE SWISS SIMPLY OFFER UK CITIZENS A PERMIT?
Yes. They aren’t in the EU so they could simply say “Ok, from now on UK citizens can get work permits – just like you used to be able to get them before Brexit.”
The snag is that the EU might not like this – it would be a backdoor to unlimited travel in Schengen and would start to compromise the unity of the Schengen member states.
However there is a long way to go before the season starts. The tourism industry relies heavily on foreign workers and it has a strong lobby.
So it seems likely that the UK and the Swiss will push to create a new agreement that allows seasonal workers to find employment between the UK and Switzerland with fewer restrictions – if not the identical freedom that was allowed before Brexit.
If this can be agreed, then we expect to see work permits become available again under new restrictions – but certainly not by “proving your can do something that no-one else can do”…
It won’t be business as usual for the British, but it would be a lot better than the default position after Brexit.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Well, in short we wait and see.
The Swiss have been negotiating with the EU since 2014 about how their unique relationship moves forwards, so there is no guarantee that the solution will be quick between the UK and Switzerland.
But with upward pressure from businesses and industries here, as well as the Swiss ‘mind the gap policy’ that has driven the Anglo-Swiss relationship so far, we think that a permit solution will be found one way or another.
GOT A FEW QUESTIONS?
We are following the changes closely so if you want call for a chat then please just get in touch.
There are no guarantees right now but the mood seems positive between the Swiss and UK governments and things have already been moving in the right direction.