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SWITZERLAND – Government Extends “Safeguard Clause” Limiting Residence Permits for Bulgarian and Romanian Nationals

, 19/04/2018

The Swiss Federal Council has decided to extend, for the year from 1 June 2018, the quota on Romanian and Bulgarian nationals (EU-2) of 996 long-term B permits, released quarterly.

In addition, maximum numbers for short-term L permits would be reintroduced if the threshold set in the bilateral Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with the EU were to be reached by 31 May 2018.

The Federal Council is expected to pass the corresponding adjustments to the ordinances at the beginning of May.

Background

For EU nationals, no prior work permit approval is required to work in Switzerland with a Swiss local employment contract, only a simple registration at the local residents office of the municipality of residence.

From 1 June 2016, the Swiss government lifted the immigration restrictions on nationals of Bulgaria and Romania, in accordance with the bilateral Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with the EU.

According to the “safeguard clause” (Art. 10 Abs. 4c of the Agreement), the Swiss government is, until 31 May 2019, entitled to impose quotas in case immigration from Bulgaria and Romania surpasses by 10% or more the median of the previous three years.

On 10 May 2017, the Swiss Federal Council announced that it would impose a quota, invoking the “safeguard clause”.

Upcoming Labour Market Test Requirement

From 1 July 2018, employers wishing to hire foreign nationals in Switzerland, for jobs which have a high unemployment rate, will be required to test the Swiss labour market by advertising the position online for five days, through the Public Employment Service (PES).

Initially, the requirement will only be applied for occupations with an unemployment rate of 8% or above. This threshold will be lowered to 5% from 1 January 2020. As of 19 April 2018, the definitive relevant jobless rates have not yet been published.

Action Items

Companies intending to hire Romanian or Bulgarian nationals in Switzerland should plan to submit permit applications in good time to avoid issues.