June 7, 2011

As of May 1, 2011, a new phase of the transitional arrangement imposed by the Swiss government on citizens of the so-called A8 countries, including the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia.

What’s Changed? 

As of May 1, 2011, a new phase of the transitional arrangement imposed by the Swiss government on citizens of the so-called A8 countries, including the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia has entered into effect and citizens of the A8 countries for the first time enjoy full freedom of movement in Switzerland. They are no longer required to secure a work authorization in order to be able to lawfully work in Switzerland.

The transitional arrangements for A8 citizens have been in place since April 2006. Prior to May 1, 2011, the Swiss government exercised its right to restrict access to its national labor market by A8 citizens by strictly scrutinizing the qualifications of work permit applicants, the salary offered by the employer and the availability of skilled local workers to fill the positions offered to A8 citizens. Furthermore, the Swiss government imposed strict annual limits on the number of work permits that could be issued to A8 citizens.

What To Be Aware Of?

It is important to note that the Swiss government has the ability to revisit its policy toward A8 nationals until May 31, 2014 under a “protection” provision of the transitional arrangements. However, the Swiss government may no longer require a labor market test or impose a salary control on A8 nationals as part of the immigration process. Rather, the Swiss government may restrict the number of residence/work permits that are made available to A8 nationals on an annual basis, but only if there is a significant increase in the number of A8 nationals seeking admission to Switzerland to exercise their freedom of movement. The earliest the Swiss government may revisit the quota issue again is May 1, 2012.

In accordance with a resolution by the Swiss Federal Council, the transitional arrangements for citizens of the A2 countries (Bulgaria and Romania) have been extended until May 31, 2014. Therefore, A2 nationals will remain subject to strict work permit requirements coupled with a labor market test and strict annual limits. The only exception to this requirement are self-employed individuals. A2 nationals who seek to work in Switzerland as self-employed individuals enjoy full freedom of movement as of June 1, 2011.

The Swiss government also announced that it expects the quotas for short-term and long-term work permits available to A2 nationals to be fully exhausted for the current and next calendar year.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS  
Employers planning to recruit A2 nationals for positions in Switzerland are advised to apply for the relevant work authorization as soon as possible in order to ensure that work permit quotas are still available. Once the work permit quota for a work permit category has been exhausted, employers may have to potentially wait several months before they can re-submit a work permit application for A2 nationals.

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. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.  Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM correspondent offices to provide this GLOBAL Brief to you.