Swiss immigration: recent developments and outlook 2018
Looking back at 2017 and forward to 2018, I offer an overview of the latest developments and outline some recommendations for navigating Switzerland’s immigration laws and admission practice. It’s clear employers will have to review recruitment processes before the ‘Stop Mass Immigration’ plan takes effect in July 2018.
The Swiss Federal Council increased the number of work permits for 2018 – ending 2017 on a positive note. Still, next year promises to be a challenging one for recruiters and foreign workers.
We can expect the implementation of new legislation arising from the ‘Stop Mass Immigration’ initiative by mid-2018. Aimed at reducing the number of EU nationals in the workforce, the legislation brings considerable legal uncertainty and may place a huge strain on employers. Read on to find out what you can expect regarding immigration in 2018 and get a brief review of 2017.
Immigration Outlook 2018
Let’s start by looking at the developments you need pay attention to in 2018.
1. Increase to 8,000 permits for non-EU nationals and EU nationals on assignment in 2018
What it means:
Quotas non-EU nationals (on local contracts and on assignments)
- Increase to 8,000 permits for non-EU nationals (3,500 residence B permits; 4,500 to short-term L permits).
- The quotas will be released on 1 January 2018.
- Each canton receives a quota according to its estimated needs (2,000 L permits; 1,250 B permits).
- The federal migration authority may assign quotas from the federal reserve on request of the cantons (2,500 L permits and 2’250 B permits) if necessary.
Quotas EU nationals on assignment
- Increase of quota for EU nationals to a total of 3,500 (500 residence permits and 3,000 to short-term L permits)
- The quotas will be released on a quarterly basis on 1 January 2018, 1 April 2018, 1 July 2018 and 1 October 2018.
What you need to do:
Overall, the quota situation in 2018 looks slightly better compared to the past couple of years. Nonetheless, it’s highly likely the EU nationals quotas will be exhausted before a quarter’s end – in the past, the quotas were often already depleted two weeks into a new quarter. This means that individuals with applications still pending at the quarter’s end aren’t entitled to take up work and must await the release of the next quota-portion – or even refile their application.
You can avoid delays. Be sure to:
- Plan ahead when setting up assignments to Switzerland or staffing projects. Note that the quota for EU nationals may be met early in the quarter.
- When possible, use a starting date at the beginning of a quarter for work permits as applications are treated ‘first received, first processed’.
2. ‘Stop Mass Immigration’ initiative
What you need to know:
Many employers will have to reconsider their recruitment processes – at the latest – by July 2018 when the ‘Stop Mass Immigration’ initiative is implemented.
The new legislation foresees the following elements:
- Employer’s obligation to register job vacancies with the local unemployment office (RAV)
- All professions suffering from an outstanding nationwide unemployment rate (first of at least 8%) are subject to such registration
- The employer must involve RAV regarding the suggestion of candidates, review of candidate profiles and response to RAV. etc.
During this process, the law bans employers from publishing a job advertisement for several days
- The employer may only continue with its “usual” recruiting process – such as publishing job ads – only if no suitable job applicant is found via the RAV
What you need to do:
The scope of affected professions is rather broad and uncertain. Nevertheless, compliance is crucial as violators may face fines of up to CHF 40,000 per case.
To avoid such fines, employers will have to reassess the recruitment processes and decide whether they:
- will notify the RAV as a default step in the recruiting process;
- assess the necessity to notify the RAV in each individual case (e.g. Does the job vacancy match one of the professions with an unemployment rate of at least 8%?).