2017 quotas on highly skilled foreign workers announced

14 Oct 16



What is the change? Switzerland will increase by 500 the number of B and L permits for highly skilled non-EU/EFTA workers in 2017. Permits for highly skilled EU/EFTA assignees will remain at 2016 levels. 

What does the change mean? Companies can plan for a slight increase in the number of permits that will be available for non-EU/EFTA workers, but for the same number of permits for EU/EFTA assignees.

  • Implementation time frame: Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Visas/permits affected:B and L permits.
  • Who is affected:Non-EU/EFTA highly skilled employees and EU/EFTA nationals on assignment in Switzerland for more than 120 days.
  • Business impact: Swiss cantons and business interests had hoped for higher quota figures in 2017, and the increase may offer some help in recruiting highly skilled non-EU/EFTA workers.

Background: B permits are work and residence permits based on employment contracts of longer than one year. L permits are issued to foreigners planning to stay in Switzerland for more than four months but less than a year.

Highly skilled workers from non-EU/EFTA countries will be capped at 3,000 B permits and 4,500 L permits, up 500 in each category compared with 2016 levels. The cap for assignees from EU/EFTA countries will remain the same: 250 B permits and 2,000 L permits will become available in 2017. Here’s a look at how the quotas have fluctuated in recent years:

Non-EU/EFTA B permits Non-EU/EFTA
L permits
B permits
L permits
2013 3,500 5,000 500 3,000
2014 3,500 5,000 500 3,000
2015 2,500 4,000 250 2,000
2016 2,500 4,000 250 2,000
2017 3,000 4,500 250 2,000

 BAL Analysis: Cantons and the business community had hoped for a boost in the number of positions available, and the increase in non-EU/EFTA B and L permits is viewed as a concession to their interests. Employers should nonetheless prepare for the likelihood that quotas will be reached in 2017, as demand for non-Swiss workers is likely to continue outpacing the number of permits available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Switzerland. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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