Switzerland to maintain permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals

Switzerland to maintain permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals

In a statement, the Swiss government has confirmed that they would not be cutting the number of new residence permits given to people from outside the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA) - called “third country nationals” by the authorities. This decision goes against what was requested by the Justice Ministry just a week ago.

Switzerland maintains number of new residence permits

In the statement, the Federal Council affirmed that the “Swiss economy should also be able to recruit the qualified specialists it needs”. “To ensure that companies in Switzerland can continue to recruit the skilled labour they need from non-EU / EFTA countries in the coming year, the Federal Council has decided to retain the same quotas for 2024 as currently,” they continued.

Unlike EU, EEA and EFTA citizens, whose numbers are not capped, only a limited number of third-country nationals are able to register in Switzerland each year. What’s more, applicants must fulfil extremely strict visa, job and residency requirements before moving. 

12.000 permits to be issued to non-EU / EFTA nationals in 2024

With the current system expected to remain unchanged, 12.000 skilled third-country nationals will be able to come to Switzerland in 2024. 4.500 new B-residence permits (valid for one year) will be made available, along with 4.000 L-short-term residence permits.

Alongside these permits, thanks to a deal struck after the United Kingdom left the EU, 2.100 B- and 1.400 L-permits will be set aside for British nationals coming to the alpine nation. Each Swiss canton will be given an allocation of permits to use - based on population - but they are also able to draw from a smaller national pool should they exhaust their annual supply.

Announcement contradicts request from Swiss Justice Minister

The announcement contradicts a report from national broadcaster SRF last week, which revealed that the Justice Minister, who controls the State Secretariat for Migration, wanted to reduce the number of permits to 9.600 a year and scrap the special allocation given to British nationals. The move, seen as a reaction to the SVP's success at the last election, was met with horror among employers, who argued the change would further exacerbate staff shortages in Switzerland.

In response, the Federal Council made the point that the current system is already strict enough, noting that third-country nationals can only come if they fit the “needs of the company and [are] in the overall economic interest of Switzerland.” “Against the background of the shortage of skilled workers in various economic sectors, the Federal Council is supporting the stabilisation and strengthening of the economy by admitting employees from third countries,” they concluded.

However, part of the Justice Minister's plan may still be in the pipeline: the Federal Council wrote that it “intends to incorporate the separate quota for UK nationals into the regular quota for third-country nationals in the medium term.”

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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