What is the change? The Federal Council has decided to extend current restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers for another year under a clause in the EU-Swiss Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons that allows Switzerland to impose quotas if immigration from the countries exceeds 10 percent of the average over the previous three years.

What does the change mean? The restrictions mean that quotas on B permits will remain in effect until May 31, 2019. Additionally, if the threshold is reached by that date, a quota on L permits will be reintroduced.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate. The current quota of 996 B permits on the EU-2 countries (Bulgaria and Romania) will be extended until May 31, 2019. The quotas are allocated per quarter.
  • Visas/permits affected: B permits (and potentially L permits).
  • Who is affected: Bulgarian and Romanian nationals.
  • Business impact: Employers should factor in the quotas when planning recruitment of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals.
  • Next steps: The Federal Council is expected to pass legislative amendments in May regarding B permit quotas and at that time will also determine whether quotas will be introduced for L permits.

Background: Bulgaria and Romania acquired full free movement rights and open access to the labor market in Switzerland on June 1, 2016. However, under a safeguard clause (“ventilklausel”), Switzerland can impose quotas according to thresholds described above. Quotas on B permits under the clause have been applied since June 1, 2017. The maximum period that it can be applied is until May 31, 2019, at which time Bulgarian and Romanian workers will have full access to the Swiss labor market.

BAL Analysis: Employers recruiting Bulgarian and Romanian nationals should anticipate limitations on the number of B permits and possibly L permits. Additionally, beginning in July under a “national priority light” (“inländervorrang”) policy, employers will be required to report all job vacancies to labor authorities if the unemployment rate in the occupational category exceeds 8 percent as of July 1, 2018 (reduced to 5 percent as of Jan. 1, 2020). The Federal Council will publish the relevant employment rates.

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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