Swiss Federal Council released work permit quotas for 2016

As of 1 January 2016 the quotas are therefore the following:

4’000 L permits for non-EU/EFTA nationals
2'500 B permits for non-EU/EFTA nationals
2'000 L permits for EU/EFTA nationals
250 B permits for EU/EFTA nationals


Current impact for Swiss Employers

For non EU/EFTA nationals all work permits with a duration of more than 4 months/120 days are subject to quota. For 2016 the Federal Council will issue a total of 6’500 quotas (2’500 for B permits and 4’000 for L permits). Half of the quotas will be distributed at the beginning of the year to the cantons according to their economic need and the other half will be retained as a reserve.

EU/EFTA nationals working in Switzerland on assignment (with no Swiss employment contract) for more than 4 months/120 days are not covered by the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons and are also subject to quota. For 2016, the Federal Council will issue a total of 2’250 quotas (250 for B permits and 2’000 for L permits). These quotas are released quarterly and are not distributed to the cantons.

Deloitte’s view

Due to the reduction of quotas in 2015 we have experienced that it has been more difficult to obtain approval for work permits and that in most cases permits will only be issued for highly qualified employees. The quarterly issued quotas for EU/EFTA nationals on assignment have typically run out within one to two months. With no quotas left the employer either had to wait for the new quotas to be issued in the next quarter or apply for a short term work permit (not subject to quota). As for the non EU/EFTA quotas, these quotas should be sufficient to meet demand for the whole year 2015 also due to a stricter evaluation of the respective work permit application.

Deloitte's recommendations for Swiss employers

Organisations should strategically consider what their current employment needs are and whether there are local resources available in Switzerland instead of international assignees.
As EU/EFTA work permits for local hires are not falling under the quotas, where possible, companies may try to offer local Swiss employment contracts.
For senior/strategic roles that need to be filled by assignees, it may be worth planning the start date at the beginning of the quarter to increase the chances to obtain a quota.
Consideration of commuter or cross-border employees who require a G permit where there is no quota attached.
If the quotas have been reached it may be possible to request 120-day work permits and file an extension application for a longer term work permit approximately one month prior to the release of the new quota.

What should Swiss Employers do going forward?

The Swiss immigration authorities have tightened application practices, for instance, there is a closer scrutiny of applications and there are increased salary requirements (wage equalisation), and stricter extension rules. The authorities are also assessing applications in more detail and are responding with additional questions or a refusal but typically with the right to be heard (this trend has been already recognised).

These measures have made obtaining work permits slightly more difficult, but getting a Swiss work permit is still possible for those that meet the conditions or work in a shortage industry. In order to mitigate this issue, organisations should ensure that they:

First check resources available within the Swiss labour market before filling the position with an assignee.
Adopt a forward-looking staffing/work permit application plan in order to avoid delays as best possible, as the authorities will treat applications according to the first received, first processed principle.
Draft application letters carefully, focusing on clear explanations and evidence of applicants' skills and their link to the planned activities in Switzerland.
Respect the minimum salary requirements imposed by the Swiss authorities (Swiss peer-level salaries and additional payments/allowances for housing/meals).

Source: Deloitte -
Posted on Wednesday Nov 18
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