December 10, 2015

The Swiss authorities have announced that the 2016 Work Permit quota levels will remain unchanged from 2015. These quotas affect both non-EU/EFTA* and EU/EFTA foreign nationals applying for Swiss work authorization.

Reductions in 2015

In Switzerland, 2015 was marked by a massive reduction in work permit quotas for both EU/EFTA nationals and non-EU/EFTA nationals. That reduction – which saw short term (L) and long term (B) permits reduced by 1,000 permits annually – was felt throughout this year as the quota allotments were quickly exhausted each quarter on both regional and federal levels. This was especially true for EU/EFTA nationals, whose quotas were reached within the first two months of each quarter.

What’s Changed?

Many Swiss businesses, immigration providers, and cantons were hopeful that the Federal Council would raise the quota numbers in 2016; however, it has been confirmed that the quota levels will be maintained for next year. Thus, effective January 1, 2016, the following quota levels will remain in place:

Non-EU/EFTA Nationals (released annually)

• L Permit (Short Term) – 4,000 permits to be allotted in 2016; and
• B Permit (Long Term) – 2,500 permits to be allotted in 2016.

EU/EFTA Nationals** (released quarterly)

• L Permit (Short Term) – 2,000 permits to be allotted in 2016; and
• B Permit (Long Term) – 250 permits to be allotted in 2016.

The above quotas are applicable to new L- and B-Permit applications only; renewal applications are not subject to quota levels. As always, half of the work permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals are to be held by the Swiss Federation as a federal reserve, whereas the total number of EU/EFTA work permits will be released to the cantons.

*EU/EFTA is made up of the member states of the European Union plus the member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which consists of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

**EU/EFTA nationals are required to obtain a work permit in Switzerland if they will be on assignment (i.e. remaining on home payroll) in the country for longer than 90- and 120-days respectively; EU/EFTA national local hires in Switzerland are not affected by the quota system.

How These Changes Affect You

The challenges with Swiss immigration seen in 2015 for both EU/EFTA and non-EU/EFTA nationals are expected to continue into 2016. Assignment timing, as well as strategic and prompt application filings, will be crucial in order to secure both L- and B-Permits next year.

As EU/EFTA nationals are most affected by these low quota levels, it is strongly recommended that assignment start dates are scheduled for the beginning of each quarter or, if this is not possible, that sufficient planning is in place on file the work permit applications at the beginning of the quarter.

Non-EU/EFTA nationals looking to file B- or L-Permit applications still in 2015 or in early 2016 may find themselves faced with a domino effect as the 2015 quota numbers are exhausted and applicants are forced to wait until 2016 to re-apply. The “runoff” from this year may strain the 2016 numbers and, as such, it is strongly recommended that companies plan to file non-EU/EFTA national B- and L-Permit applications as early as possible in the year to avoid quota shortages.

As always, Pro-Link GLOBAL will be happy to assist with any assignment planning. Please reach out to your Immigration Specialist should you have any questions or concerns.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. We would like to remind you that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your immigration specialist or your client relations manager at Pro-Link GLOBAL should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by your Pro-Link GLOBAL Knowledge Management team. We worked with our PLG | KGNM Switzerland Offices “Sgier und Partner GmbH” to provide you this update.

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