• Adrian Tüscher, Partner |

In this blog we cover the full freedom of movement for Croatian nationals, facilitated admission to the labor market for third-country nationals with a Swiss university degree and quotas for workers from third countries and assignees from EU/EFTA.

Full freedom of movement for Croatian nationals

As of 1 January 2022, Croatian citizens will be granted unrestricted freedom of movement in Switzerland. 

This means that Croatian citizens will be treated equally to EU/EFTA nationals in terms of taking up residency and work in Switzerland from 1 January 2022 on. 

Croatian citizens with a valid Swiss employment contract are entitled to obtain a Swiss work and residence permit. In order to do so, no formal work and residence permit application must be filed.  Instead, the individual can complete the registration process with the local resident’s office upon entering Switzerland. In addition, the online notification tool ("Meldeverfahren") can be used for assignments from Croatia to Switzerland as well as for Croatian citizens being employed by a Swiss company for a period of max. 90 days.

If the immigration of Croatian citizens exceeds a certain threshold, Switzerland has the option to reimplement a quota for permits for Croatian nationals as of 1 January 2023 until the end of 2026.

Facilitated admission to the labor market for third-country nationals with a Swiss university degree

Every year, there is a large number of third-country nationals graduating from Swiss universities. However, due to strict admission requirements for foreign national graduates, it has been difficult to obtain a work and residence permit. As a consequence, they have to leave Switzerland after finishing education and cannot pursue gainful work despite a shortage of skilled workers in the domestic market.

In order to prevent this loss of skilled workers for the Swiss labor market, the Swiss Federal Council intends to ease the legal conditions for third-country nationals with a Swiss university degree. 

Today, foreign Swiss university graduates may be exempted from the quotas if the intended activity is of high scientific or economic interest. In addition, students with master's degrees and doctoral students from third countries will not be subject to the quotas in case they pursue gainful work in Switzerland in areas with a shortage of skilled workers.  These areas are the so-called MINT areas (mathematics, computer science, science and technology).

A decision of the Swiss Federal Council regarding the additional ease is expected in February 2022 at the earliest. Until now, the employment of third-country graduates of Swiss universities was only possible under strict conditions. 

In case the Swiss Federal Council introduced the additional ease, this would not mean that the recruiting of third-country graduates from Swiss universities will be possible without restrictions; however, it would be greatly facilitated.  

Quotas for workers from third countries (incl. UK) and assignees from EU/EFTA countries

The quotas for workers from third countries incl. the UK and for assignees from EU/EFTA countries remain unchanged.

Quotas for non-EU/EFTA citizens

In addition to the available domestic workforce and the agreement on the free movement of persons with the EU/EFTA states, Swiss companies will further have the possibility to recruit skilled workers from countries outside the EU/EFTA 

The Federal Council has decided to leave the quota for 2022 unchanged. I.e. in 2022, 8,500 permits are available, divided into:

  • 4,500 long-term permits
  • 4,000 short-term permits

Quotas for UK citizens

The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (FMPA) between Switzerland and the UK is no longer applicable after Brexit. Consequently, UK nationals are treated equally to third country nationals and are therefore subject to quotas. 

To ensure that companies based in Switzerland can continue to recruit skilled workers from the UK in the coming year, the Federal Council has decided on quotas for UK nationals. These amount to a total of 3,500 permits, divided into: 

  • 2,100 long-term permits (type B)
  • 1,400 short-term permits (type L)

These quotas will be released quarterly by the cantons.

These quotas for UK citizens will apply for another year in the sense of a transitional solution for the time being. The future regulation after 2022 will be considered, among other things, in the light of developments regarding a possible preferential agreement between Switzerland and the UK regarding future immigration relations. 

Quotas for assignees from EU/EFTA

Furthermore, the quotas for assignees from the EU/EFTA region remain unchanged. Hence, overall 3,500 permits will be available, divided into:

  • 3,000 for short-term permits
  • 500 long-term permits

These quotas will also be released on a quarterly basis.

Due to the current pandemic situation and based on our experience, we expect that the aforementioned quotas will prove sufficient in 2022.

Read our part two of the new immigration-related developments in 2022 which will be published soon.

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