A practical overview of the permit application process for UK citizens post-Brexit


Brexit has severely impacted the rights for British citizens to obtain a Swiss work permit.

From January 2021, UK citizens are subject to the Swiss labour priority process. This means that the applicant must first look for a job, obtain a work contract and wait for the cantonal decision before being able to start working in Switzerland.

It is the employer who must apply for the permit on behalf of the UK worker, at least two or three months before the proposed starting date. The employer must be able to demonstrate that no Swiss or European worker was found for the position and that the UK worker is a skilled professional holding specific expertise.

A total number of 2’100 B permits and 1’400 L permits are available per year specifically for UK citizens. The cantonal approval does not need to be reviewed by the SEM (Secrétariat d’Etat aux Migrations) in Bern, in contrary to other non-EU applications.

The employer must send the permit application to cantonal immigration authorities by joining the relevant forms with:

-colour copy of passport

-CV and copies of diplomas

-a motivation letter explaining why the UK worker was chosen for the position

-proof that the job was advertised on the local and European job market

-a description of the company (number of employees and types of work permit)

-copy of the work contract signed by both parties


The UK worker, if approved, should then announce his arrival in the canton within 14 days and send his criminal excerpt and copy of rental agreement to cantonal authorities.

A family reunification process will have to be requested for family members of the UK worker.

This process applies for any type of activity: work, internship, voluntary work or performing as an artist.

However, UK citizens who have already obtained a Swiss permit prior Brexit have their rights protected by the agreement on acquired rights, meaning that they are regulated by the agreement on the freedom of movement of people (AFMP) or not by the federal law on foreigners and integration (LEI).

Contact us if you need assistance with applying for a work permit for a British citizen.

16/04/2021 – Alexa Mossaz, immigration specialist at Legal Expat


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    This website aims to provide general information regarding Swiss law and should not be regarded as a legal opinion. For more specific advice, do not hesitate to contact us.