The Swiss Federal Council has announced a crucial decision regarding work permits for individuals from outside the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) for the year 2024.
This means that up to 8,500 qualified specialists from outside the EFTA can be recruited, with 4,500 receiving long-term B permits and 4,000 receiving short-term L permits.
Unchanged Third-Country Quotas
After thorough consultations with social partners and cantons, the Federal Council has opted to keep the third-country quotas unchanged for the upcoming year. This decision maintains parity in the number of work permits offered to both employees from outside the EU and EFTA.
Recruitment Opportunities for 2024
In 2024, Switzerland will continue to welcome up to 8,500 qualified specialists from non-EU and EFTA countries. This comprises 4,500 individuals eligible for a residence permit B and 4,000 individuals with a short-term residence permit L.
Historical Trends and Quota Utilization
Recent years have seen underutilization of the allocated quotas. According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), by the end of October 2023, only 68% of B residence permits and 65% of L short-stay permits for employed third-country nationals had been utilized.
Unchanged Quotas for EU and EFTA Service Providers
Not only are the quotas for third-country employees unaffected, but the quotas for service providers from the EU and EFTA also remain unchanged. Additionally, the special quota for employed individuals from the United Kingdom will persist without alterations.
Swiss Minister Considers Reducing Work Permit Quotas
Meanwhile, Swiss Justice Minister Elisabeth Baume-Schneider has indicated that she is open to reducing the quota for workers from third countries. This has drawn criticism from cantons and businesses, who argue that such a move would make it more difficult for them to find qualified workers.
The Federal Council has set a total of 12,000 permits for people from third countries and the United Kingdom for 2023. Cantons have called for these quotas to be maintained.
Implications for Businesses and Workers
The decision to maintain the work permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA citizens in 2024 is a positive one for businesses in Switzerland, as it will continue to allow them to recruit qualified workers from abroad. However, the potential reduction of work permit quotas in the future could pose challenges for businesses and workers alike.
As the debate unfolds, Switzerland continues to navigate its immigration policies, weighing the needs of the workforce against the demands and concerns of various stakeholders.