Labour migration from third countries to Switzerland is limited. Admission is based on companies' needs and the interests of the Swiss economy as a whole. Priority is given to the domestic workforce and workers from the EU/EFTA member states.
To ensure that companies in Switzerland can continue to recruit the skilled labour they need from non-EU/EFTA countries in the coming year, the Federal Council has decided to retain the same quotas for 2024 as in the previous year. The decision was taken in consultation with the cantons and social partners. In view of the shortage of skilled labour in various sectors of the economy, the Federal Council's decision to admit the same number of workers from third countries and the United Kingdom as well as service providers from the EU/EFTA countries will help stabilise and strengthen the Swiss economy. This means that next year up to 8,500 skilled workers can again be recruited from third countries: 4,500 with a category B residence permit and 4,000 with a short-term category L permit.
Quotas for service providers from the EU/EFTA
The maximum quota for service providers from the EU/EFTA exceeding a period of 90 or 120 days per year will also remain unchanged. This means that 3,000 short-term category L permits and 500 category B residence permits will be available to this group in 2024. As in the past, the quotas will be released to the cantons each quarter.
Quotas for UK nationals in gainful employment
Since 1 January 2021, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) between Switzerland and the UK no longer applies. UK nationals are therefore now considered third-country nationals. Separate quotas apply to them as a transitional arrangement. According to the Federal Council's decision, 3,500 permits will be available to this category once again in the coming year: 2,100 category B residence permits and 1,400 short-term category L permits. However, the Federal Council intends to incorporate the separate quota for UK nationals into the regular quota for third-country nationals in the medium term.
Utilisation of 2023 quotas
In recent years the quotas have not been fully utilised. At the end of October 2023, 68% of category B residence permits and 65% of short-term category L permits had been reached for third-country workers. Of the quotas for service providers from the EU/EFTA for a duration of more than 90 and 120 days per year, 36% (B permits) and 45% (L permits) had been reached respectively. In the case of the separate quotas for UK nationals, only 23% of category B permits and 18% of category L permits had been utilised; a comparatively low rate.
The Federal Council's decision requires an amendment to the Ordinance on Admission, Period of Stay and Employment (ASEO) and to the FDJP Ordinance on the Approval Procedure for Foreign Workers (AP-FDJP).
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