EXPLAINED: Switzerland's planned work quotas for third-country nationals

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 26 Nov, 2022 Updated Sat 26 Nov 2022 08:50 CEST
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You must be a highly shklled worker to be allowed into Switzerland from third nations.Image by Borko Manigoda from Pixabay

While people from the EU/EFTA states can get a Swiss work permit relatively easy, citizens from third countries are subject to quotas, which are renewed each year.

For 2023, the government will issue the same number of work permits to non-Europeans as it had this and last year, the Federal Council has announced.

This means 8,500 skilled workers from third countries can be employed in Switzerland: 4,500 will benefit from a B and 4,000 from a L permit.

In addition, 3,500 permits are set aside for workers from the UK, as British citizens benefit from separate quotas: 2,100 under a B permit and 1,400 under an L permit.

Why do British citizens have a separate quota?

From January 1st, 2021, people from Great Britain are no longer considered to be EU nationals and are subjected to the same rules as other citizens of third nations.

In other words, they will be "admitted to work here provided if this is in Switzerland’s overall economic interest”, according to State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). 

However, this  doesn’t apply to British nationals who had moved to Switzerland before the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31st, 2020) — they will retain all their existing rights for residence and employment.

How can a third-country national apply for a Swiss work permit?

“Authorisations are issued according to the needs of companies and taking into account the economic interests of Switzerland,” the Federal Council said,  adding that “priority is given to workers already present in the country.”

If you are not in Switzerland but want to apply from abroad, “you may only do so if you are highly qualified, i.e. if you are a manager, specialist or other skilled professional,” according to SEM.

“This means, essentially, that you should have a degree from a university or an institution of higher education, as well as a number of years of professional work experience."

And, you must have a job offer in Switzerland, that is, someone who can attest they want to employ you. 

Another condition is that your potential employer must prove that there is no suitable person to fill the job vacancy from Switzerland or from an EU/EFTA state, SEM said.

How do you find an employer who might want to take you on?

In the same way as anyone else — Swiss or EU / EFTA national — would: look at posts advertised in Switzerland and if you see a job listing you like, you can apply in the usual manner — send your CV and other documents required by the company.

If you do get hired because you fulfil all the criteria — that is, you are highly skilled and no Swiss or EU candidate can be found to fill this position — your employer will apply for a work permit for you. Cantonal authorities will then decide, based on the quota system mentioned above, whether to grant the authorisation.

You can find more information in this article:

EXPLAINED: What are your chances of getting a job in Switzerland from abroad?

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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2022/11/26 08:50

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