SWITZERLAND – No Work Permit Quotas for EU National Local Hires
Effective 1 May 2014, long term B permits for locally hired workers from “EU8”, the eight countries which joined the European Union (EU) in 2004 will no longer be subject to quotas. From 1 June 2014 the quota requirement will also fall away for the issuance of B permits for workers from “old” EU countries – also known as “EU17”.
What Are EU8 and EU17?
The “EU8” are the eight countries which joined the EU in 2004: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. The “EU17” are the seventeen EU member states which comprised the EU prior to its expansion in 2004 plus Malta and Cyprus; i.e.: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom.
What Are Switzerland’s Quotas?
Switzerland has operated a quota system for the issuance of work and residence permits for all non-Swiss nationals - both non-European Union nationals and EU nationals, up until 31 May 2014. The quotas were imposed on B permits, which are long term residence permits, valid for up to five years, and renewable. Once the B permit quotas are reached, applicants are issued with L permits instead – valid for up to 12 months and convertible into a B permit after two years. These permit quotas have now expired and will not be renewed, so as of 1 June most EU nationals hired in Switzerland (on local contract and payroll) will be allowed to enter Switzerland, register for their permit and begin working without restrictions.
Exceptions for New EU Member States
Bulgarian, Croatian and Romanian nationals will still have to apply for permits and wait for approval before they can start to work in Switzerland. Work authorization for these nationals will continue to be subject to annual quotas until 31 May 2016. The Swiss government then has the possibility to decide whether this quota duration is to be prolonged or not. Also, note that quotas still apply for all nationals on assignment to Switzerland (those remaining on home country contract and payroll).
Will Quotas Be Reintroduced?
The Swiss government is expected to respond during 2014 to the referendum in February, when a majority voted in favour of tightening EU immigration into Switzerland and reintroducing annual quotas for all EU/EFTA nationals. By the end of the year, a legislative draft is to be submitted for consultation. Until definite legislation has passed on the matter, the bilateral agreements regarding free movement between the EU and Switzerland remain valid.