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Government to allow more foreign workers into Switzerland in 2018

The Swiss Federal Council on Wednesday said it would increase the number of permits available to non-EU workers in 2018.

Government to allow more foreign workers into Switzerland in 2018
Photo: The Local
Next year 8,000 permits can be dished out to non-EU workers (3,500 B permits and 4,500 L permits), 500 more than in 2017, news agency ATS reported on Wednesday.
 
The news will be a relief to several cantons that earlier this year demanded an increase in permits, saying the low number available was damaging to businesses.
 
Unlike foreigners arriving in Switzerland from the EU, who have the right to work here under a bilateral agreement granting free movement, workers from outside the EU – so-called third states – are subject to quotas. 
 
 
However after the 2014 anti-immigration vote, the Swiss federal government reduced the quota of third-state permits for 2015 and 2016 by a quarter. 
 
The number of permits was raised for 2017 but still fell short of 2014 levels.
 
In a joint letter to the government in August, the cantons of Geneva, Basel-City and Zurich – which together make up a third of Switzerland’s economy – said they had used up their quota of permits by the end of the first trimester of this year and demanded the number be increased.
 
 “The low level of quotas leads to uncertainty for the authorities and businesses, which isn't favourable to our economic development,” they said.  
 
While domestic and EU workers make up a large part of the workforce, companies must be able to call on workers from third states, particularly specialists in research and development, added the letter. If not, there would be an “increased risk that projects will be moved abroad or that companies decide not to come to Switzerland”.
 
 
The government’s announcement on Wednesday goes part way to meeting their demands, but still falls short of the 8,500 permits requested, which would have meant a return to 2014’s levels.
 
Cantons that run out of permits can also ask another canton to hand over some of its own allocation, it said.
 
There are currently 2.1 million foreigners in Switzerland, a quarter of the total population. 
 
 
For members

TRAVEL

What do Switzerland’s foreigners miss most during the pandemic?

New survey reveals which activities members of the international community are looking forward to most when life in Switzerland gets back to normal.

What do Switzerland’s foreigners miss most during the pandemic?
Expats miss travel most of all. Photo by NA FASSBENDER / AFP

Many people experience the so-called “pandemic blues” and foreigners in Switzerland are no different.

In fact, their feelings are often exacerbated by the isolation from their home countries. This is evident from a new survey, carried out by Glocals expat group. 

“On our social network, we perceived a feeling of frustration”, in particular concerning inability to see families, said Nir Ofek, one of the managers of Glocals.

“In this, their needs undoubtedly differ from those of the local population”.

Not surprisingly, the desire to resume travelling is the number one wish of 69 percent of respondents.

“Travel is not only linked to family contacts, but it also symbolises freedom”, Ofek said.

And there is also likely to be a rush on restaurants and bars, the survey found.

Some 43 percent of those surveyed said they will eat out the first week restaurants reopen, while 35 percent plan to do so in the first month.

Of those, 68 percent believe they will be safe there, even indoors, if social distances are maintained.

Overall, foreign respondents are not too optimistic that the pandemic will develop favourably. Sixty-three percent believe that new shutdowns will happen in the future. And 60 percent doubt that Switzerland will be able to vaccinate the majority of the adult population by the end of the summer.

Their outlook on the Swiss management of the pandemic is mixed. Only quarter of those polled rate it positively, a fifth find it poor, while more than half (52 percent) answer “so-so”.

Respondents also shared some of their experiences of living in Switzerland during the pandemic.

On a personal level, vast majority (86 percent) said they have missed social contact, experienced stress (66 percent) and decline in mental (61 percent) or physical (43 percent) health.

A fifth faced concerns about professional stability.

One person said that after she lost her job, “my residence permit expired and I had to leave Switzerland where I had lived for seven years and which had become my home.”

READ MORE: How do the Swiss really feel about foreigners?

What do you miss most about normal life – and what are you looking forward to the most when things return to normal. Get in touch at [email protected]

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