Swiss Federal Council moves to further limit the number of migrant workers to Switzerland from EU-17 States

Posted on 5th January, 2013

Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Switzerland has imposed restrictions on the number of EU nationals who can work legally in Switzerland.


In recent years there has been a consistent growth in the number of migrant workers coming to Switzerland. This is viewed by some as having a negative as well as a positive impact on the Swiss economy and infrastructure such as the labour market, the social security system and the housing market.

The Safeguard Clause

In order to address concerns about current immigration levels, the Swiss Federal Council has invoked the safeguard clause contained in the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons. The safeguard clause permits Switzerland to unilaterally impose restrictions (through the use of quotas) on the number of residence permits to be issued to employed and self-employed persons from the so-called EU-17 states (largely the non-Eastern European member states) which will apply for one year. The Federal Council has also decided to extend the restrictions already in place for 5-years' residence permits for nationals of the EU-8 states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) for another year. The quota to apply in respect of nationals from the EU-8 states will be 2,180 and in respect of nationals from the EU-17 53,700. The Federal Council has not introduced quotas for short term residence permits for workers from any EU states. The Federal Council is aware that the safeguard clause is only a short term measure and that further measures with a long term effect may be required to fully address the concerns currently being raised about the high levels of immigration. However, the Federal Council reiterated its view that the free movement of persons also brings many benefits to the Swiss economy.


Employers should take into account that the quotas above will quickly be exhausted, and applications should be made sooner rather than later to have more chance of success.


Press Release from the Federal Council For further information or to discuss any of the issues raised, please contact Walter H. Boss or Stefanie Monge on +41 44 220 1212 at Poledna Boss Kurer, Zurich - Disclaimer Content is for general information purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive and it does not constitute or contain legal or other advice. If you require assistance in relation to any issue please seek specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances. In particular, no responsibility shall be accepted by the authors or by Abbiss Cadres LLP for any losses occasioned by reliance on any content appearing on or accessible from this article. For further legal information click here. Circular 230 disclosure To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS and other taxing authorities, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this article (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Copying If you would like to copy or otherwise reproduce this article then you may do so provided that: (1) any such copy or reproduction is for your own personal use or if it is made available to any third party it is done so on a free of charge basis; and (2) the article is reproduced in full together with the contact details, disclaimer and any logos as they appear on each article.