For 2021, the Swiss work permits will most likely not be exhausted. For 2022 the quotas remain at the same level. As of 2022 Croatian nationals will profit from unrestricted free movement.
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 2021
For 2021, the work permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals as well as for seconded EU/EFTA nationals have not been exhausted and for 2022 the quotas remain at the same level.
Due to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the AFMP between the UK and Switzerland no longer applies as of 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 Federal Council further decided to introduce unrestricted freedom of movement for Croatia from 1 January 2022. This will put Croatian workers on an equal footing with other EU/EFTA nationals. The Swiss delegation officially informed the EU of this decision on the joint committee. In practice this means, that hiring Croatian nationals on a Swiss employment contract will be much easier, as a labor market test will no longer be required. Regarding assigned employees, there are no longer separate quotas for Croatian nationals as of 1 January 2022. Instead, Croatian workers under an assignment contract will now fall under the regular quota for EU/EFTA nationals.
Should the immigration of Croatian workers exceed a certain threshold, Switzerland can still invoke a safeguard clause and limit the number of permits again from 1 January 2023 until the end of 2026 at the latest.
Owing to the balance which will remain unused by the end of 2021 largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that work permit quotas will also not be fully utilized in 2022. 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.