Swiss immigration changes
Reintroduction of quotas for B-permits – EU-8 Member States
On April 18, 2012, the Swiss federal government decided to invoke the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement on the free movement of persons, applicable to citizens of EU-81 Member States.
Citizens from EU-172/EFTA3 Member States are not affected and continue to benefit from unrestricted access to the labour market in Switzerland.
As a consequence, the granting of a B-permit to citizens of EU-8 Member States is subject to quotas as from May 1, 2012.
Until April 30, 2012, EU-8 nationals benefited from full free movement of persons to Switzerland without restrictions or quotas.
As from May 1, 2012, B-permits granted to EU-8 nationals are subject to quotas. A quota of 2,180 B-permits is imposed and should remain in force for one year, i.e. until April 30, 2013. Before the end of this 12-month period, the federal government will make a new assessment of the situation and will decide whether to extend or not the quota limitation up to May 31, 2014. After that date, unrestricted freedom of movement will apply to all citizens of the EU-254/EFTA Member States.
As a consequence, once the quota for B-permits has been used, citizens of a EU-8 Member State will not be eligible for a B-permit even if they have concluded an employment contract with a Swiss employer for an indeterminate period of time.
One would expect that the competent immigration authorities would grant an L-permit instead of a B-permit to the applicant although a decision of refusal due to the lack of available quota cannot be excluded.
No change for L-permits or for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens
- The granting of short term permits (L-permits) is not affected by this change.
- Citizens from Bulgaria and Romania remain subject to additional restrictions, such as the priority of the local labour market, control of wage and working conditions and fulfilment of quotas. These restrictions will end definitively by June 1, 2016 at the latest (7 years after the extended Agreement came into force).
If you have any question concerning this topic, please contact your usual Deloitte advisor or one of the specialists listed in this newsletter.
1 EU-8 Member States: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia
2 EU-17 Member States: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
3 EFTA Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway
4 EU-25 Member States: EU-8 + EU-17 Member States