On 25 February 2019 Switzerland and the UK signed an agreement guaranteeing reciprocal protection for UK nationals resident in Switzerland and Swiss nationals living in the UK when the UK leaves the EU.
The terms of the agreement cover a range of matters including residence, working, healthcare, pensions, benefits and recognition of qualifications.
If the UK and the EU agree the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU (the “Withdrawal Agreement”) then the UK/Swiss citizens’ rights agreement will come into force at the end of the implementation period of the Withdrawal Agreement. In the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK/Swiss citizens’ rights agreement will come into force on 30 March 2019.
Swiss nationals residing in the UK will be able to apply for a settled or pre-settled status under the government’s EU Settlement Scheme from 30 March 2019. If a Withdrawal Agreement is reached, they will have the same grace period to submit their applications as EU nationals – the current deadline for which will be 30 June 2021.
Persons protected by the UK/Swiss agreement include UK nationals lawfully residing in Switzerland and Swiss citizens lawfully residing in the UK at the specified date (i.e. the end of the implementation period if there is a Withdrawal Agreement or the UK exit date in a no deal scenario). Family members currently present in the UK/Switzerland are included in the agreement. Furthermore, individuals enjoying protection under the agreement can be joined by “close” family members (spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren and dependent parents and grandparents) at any point in the future, provided the relationship between them and the UK/Swiss national existed on the specified date and continues to exist when that family member wishes to join them in the host country. New spouses and partners will also be able to join the persons protected under the agreement in the UK (or Switzerland) under the current rules, for five years after the specified date. Any child born to (or otherwise becoming a child of) someone falling within the scope of the agreement will also be protected by its terms.
UK or Swiss nationals lawfully residing in either host country at the specified date will be permitted to continue living there and after five years’ residence will be able to apply for settled status, subject to restrictions relating to serious or persistent criminality or abuse of the system. Such a right to reside permanently in the host country can only be lost through an absence from the country of more than four years, unless this period is shortened due an individual’s conduct or, for those residing in Switzerland, because of a failure to notify Swiss authorities of the departure within 6 months of leaving the country.
The agreement provides that UK and Swiss nationals and their family members will continue to enjoy the right to leave and enter with a valid passport or national ID card (for third-country national family members – a valid passport only) for five years after the specified date.
Gherson have extensive experience of dealing with all aspects of the EU Settlement Scheme and related matters. If you require any advice or assistance with respect to your own circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.