Why are more foreigners coming to Switzerland than previously?

Why are more foreigners coming to Switzerland than previously?
Why is immigration on the increase in Switzerland? (Photo by MICHELE LIMINA / AFP)

In 2022, around 81,000 more foreigners immigrated to Switzerland than left the country which meant almost 20,000 more international residents arrived than the previous year. Why are the numbers going up?


According to the federal government, the reason for the increase is simple: the growing demand in the labour market.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) presented its statistics for the past 12 months, which includes data on its permanent foreign resident population.

According to the stats, a total of 114,393 people arrived in Switzerland from EU and EFTA countries in 2022 – nearly 20,000 more than in 2021. Of those, around 48,042 were third-country nationals. At the same time, 73,736 people left Switzerland.

In all, at the end of December 2022, 2,241,854 foreign nationals resided in Switzerland on a permanent basis.

Increasing demand for workers fuels immigration

The reason for the disparity is that workers from the EU / EFTA have an almost limitless access to the Swiss employment market, whereas permits for people from outside Europe are subject to strict quotas.


According to the SEM, the main reason for the increase in immigration is that more people have been employed in the service sector, in industry and in construction. The increase, it stated, reflects the dynamic development of the Swiss economy and is also the result of catchup effects after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thus, the number of newly hired foreign workers increased by 26 percent with a total of 90,633 foreigners taking up long-term positions in Switzerland during 2022.

Zurich sees most new immigrants

As in the previous year, the canton of Zurich topped the list with 28,994 people moving to the canton from other countries, followed by Vaud which welcomed 20,025 foreigners. In contrast, 14,179 Zurich and 11,620 Vaud residents chose to leave Switzerland in 2022.

Meanwhile, 11,799 foreigners moved to the canton of Geneva between January 1st and December 31st 2022 from abroad, with 6,745 Geneva residents leaving Switzerland. The canton of Basel-City counted 4,687 new arrivals while 2,542 left the canton for foreign shores.

The statistics did not include foreigners with short-term residence permits as those were counted as renewed immigration and therefore not listed in the immigration statistics for the non-permanent foreign resident population, effectively leading to slightly lower immigration numbers compared to the previous year.

2.24 million foreigners in Switzerland permanently

According to the data, 2.24 million foreigners lived permanently in Switzerland at the end of December 2022. This included 335,755 Italians which still account for the largest foreign population group in the country, closely followed by German nationals at 317,544. The former are followed by 157,769 French and 257,829 nationals.




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