The Swiss government has decided the quotas for highly qualified workers from non-European Union (EU)/European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) countries, as well as for assignees from EU/EFTA countries.  The quotas for non EU/EFTA nationals have been increased by 500 per category compared to the previous two years, whereas those for assignees from EU/EFTA countries remain at the same level.

The quotas are imposed on a national, rather than per-company, basis, on B permits, which are long term residence permits, valid for up to five years, and renewable.  Once the B permit quotas are reached, applicants are issued with L permits instead – valid for up to 12 months and convertible into a B permit after two years.

In 2017, companies in Switzerland can recruit foreign national specialists from non-EU/EFTA countries up to the following national quotas:

  • 4500 L permits;
  • 3000 B permits.

The increase in permits for non-EU/EFTA nationals follows complaints from some cantons that their quota has already been used up this year.  However, the number of L and B work permits issued for non-EU/EFTA nationals in 2017 will still be 1000 fewer than before the 2014 vote that called for a curb on foreign immigration.

The quotas for assignees from EU/EFTA countries to Switzerland for more than 90 and for more than 120 days have remained the same as for 2015 and 2016:

  • 2000 L permits;
  • 250 B permits.

Employers should note the new quotas for 2017 and expect a continuation of the strict qualifying criteria seen in 2015 and 2016, as well as planning to submit work permit applications in good time to avoid issues.


Please note that this is general information only and not intended as advice on a specific matter. Please feel free to contact Fakhoury Global Immigration directly with questions exclusive to your situation. This news alert may have been prepared using information from Peregrine Immigration Management, which is licensed to Fakhoury Global Immigration.