For 2020, 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 2021 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 2020

For 2020, the work permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals as well as for seconded EU/EFTA nationals have not been exhausted and for 2021 the quotas remain at the same level.

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Quota situation in 2021: Outlook

The Federal Council announced on 25 November 2020 that the quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals and assigned EU/EFTA nationals in 2021 remain unchanged, as in 2020. 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 as of January 2021.

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UK nationals

Due to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the AFMP between the UK and Switzerland will no longer apply from 1 January 2021 (you can read more about Brexit related changes here). Per the Federal Council’s decision, a maximum of 3’500 UK nationals can be recruited annually, starting January 2021; 2’100 with a long-term work permit B and 1’400 with a short-term work permit L.

The quota for the UK is initially valid for one year and will be released to the cantons on a quarterly basis. For the time being, permits for UK citizens are not subject to the approval procedure of the federal government and are therefore only granted under the authority of the cantons. If there is no agreement on a future migration regime over the course of 2021, the separate UK quotas for 2022 may be integrated into the third country nationals’ quota.

Croatian nationals

Croatian nationals taking up gainful employment in Switzerland with a Swiss employment contract must still 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 balance which will remain unused by the end of 2020 largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that work permit quotas will also not be fully utilized in 2021. 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 which are not subject to quotas, such as L120 day work permits and L permits for up to 4 months.