Under the EU-Switzerland agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, obtaining a permit to work in Switzerland is a relatively straight forward process for most EU citizens.
EU and EFTA citizens generally do not require authorisation for short-term employment of up to three months or 90 days per calendar year. However, future Swiss employers are now required to digitally register employees latest by at least one day before employment is due to commence. That said – restrictions apply to both UK and Croatian Nationals.
The United Kingdom
The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020, however existing bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU remained in force with respect to the United Kingdom until 31 December 2020. Since 1 January 2021, UK Nationals looking to work in Switzerland are now considered to be third country nationals.
This means that although UK Citizens can still receive Swiss work permits, it is now more difficult than before with no guarantee of success. Below is the list of documents required for UK passport holders to apply for a Swiss Work Permit.
- A copy of the curriculum vitae of the applicant
- Copies of formal qualifications
- A counter-signed employment contract
- A copy of the UK passport or identity card
- The sourcing agent is required to give evidence of ‘candidate search efforts’ lasting several weeks in Switzerland, with regards to searching for EU-EFTA candidates the vacant position.
The application for UK Nationals to receive permission from the Swiss authorities to work in Switzerland incurs additional costs which will be charged to the sourcing agent (even if the candidate’s application is rejected).
The process of obtaining a work permit can take several weeks at which point the candidate will know if their application is accepted. The candidate will then have permission to enter to Switzerland and register with the authorities in person for a work permit. The candidate will also need to have a signed rental agreement for their accommodation before he or she is able to obtain the work permit.
Despite being a member of the EU, restrictions apply to nationals of Croatia who must be in possession of a valid work permit before the first day of employment in Switzerland, even if the period of employment is less than three months.
This ruling means that although Croatians are entitled to work in Switzerland at the current time this is under transitional provisions, similar to nationals of the EU-8 countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) and EU-2 (Bulgaria, Romania) previously. For Croatian Nationals, the following conditions apply:
- A Swiss-based company must still apply for a work permit for Croatian nationals and show that prior search efforts in Switzerland to fill the post with Swiss/EU or EFTA Nationals have been unsuccessful. This also applies to short term local employment under three months.
- Online registration is not available for this kind of employment. There are annual quotas for Croatian Nationals which increase gradually each year until the full freedom of movement applies. For the period from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021 the number of Croatians allowed to apply for a B Permit in Switzerland is 250.
- This transitional phase will last until 31st December 2023. After this the free movement of persons should apply, whereby the Swiss government can still make use of a safety clause to regulate immigration if determined to be excessive. After 31st December 2026, the full freedom of movement should apply to Croatian nationals, as it already does for older EU member states.
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