For 2019, the Swiss work permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals as well as for assigned EU/EFTA nationals will most likely not be exhausted and for 2020 the quotas remain at the same level.

Switzerland knows a dual admission system to the labor market. It differentiates between someone who comes from an EU/EFTA state or from a non-EU/EFTA state. Priority is given to EU/EFTA nationals, subject to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP). Consequently, the admission of non-EU nationals to the Swiss labor Market is limited to highly specialized and qualified non-EU nationals, based on the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA).

The admission of non-EU nationals as well as assigned EU/EFTA nationals is not only regulated quantitatively by quotas, but also by qualitative requirements such as salary and working conditions or personal qualifications.

Quota situation in 2019

For 2019, the work permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals as well as for seconded EU/EFTA nationals have not been exhausted and for 2020 the quotas remain at the same level.

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Quota situation in 2020: Outlook

The Federal Council announced on 27 November 2019 that the quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals and assigned EU/EFTA nationals in 2020 remain unchanged, as in 2019. Furthermore, the quota for Croatian nationals will be slightly increased (according to pre-defined numbers). The Federal Council has also provided a quota for employment of UK nationals in Switzerland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.


Croatian nationals

Despite Croatia already being part of the EU, Croatian nationals taking up gainful employment in Switzerland with a Swiss employment contract still must respect the transitional provisions (according to the protocol III of the AFMP). Only by respecting the following requirements will a Croatian national receive a work and residence authorization for Switzerland:

  • Priority of workers already admitted to the Swiss labor market;
  • Review of salary and working conditions;
  • Annual quotas for short term work permits and long-term work permits.

The quotas for Croatian nationals have already been predefined and will increase gradually every year. The transitional period could be extended until 31. December 2023. Thereafter, the federal council could invoke safeguard clause until 31. December 2026.


Owing to the increase in quotas in 2019 and the balance that remains unused by the end of 2019, it is expected that work permit quotas will also not be fully utilized in 2020. However, it is still recommended that employers forecast their foreign workforce requirements whenever possible to benefit from the available quota where needed. Furthermore, a planning ahead of project timelines may allow employers to benefit from permits that are not subject to quotas, such as L120 day work permits and L permits for up to 4 months.