The Swiss government announced on 12 October 2016 that the work permit quotas for non-Europeans will be slightly increased. The cantonal immigration authorities will be able to issue 1’000 additional work permits to qualified specialists from non-EU countries.

The evolution of the number of quota permits for non-Europeans is as follows:

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Despite the increase by 1’000 units for 2017, the quota permits will remain scarce. For the last quarter of 2016, there are only approximately 400 B permits left, and 600 L permits for all cantons.The total quota permits for non-EU was reduced by 2’000 units by the Swiss government in 2015, as a consequence of the acceptance of the popular initiative against “mass immigration” by a short majority on 14 February 2014, introducing the new Article 121a of the Constitution. The government indicated that this measure was dictated by the economic interest of the country and the need to secure existing jobs in Switzerland. The preference of local hires is guaranteed.

The cantons of Geneva and Vaud complain that the available quota are not sufficient to satisfy the needs of qualified specialists for the large number of multinational companies present in the Geneva lake area.

The quota system applies to non-Europeans hired for more than four months. The quota system also applies to Europeans assigned to Switzerland (i.e. when the employer is not in Switzerland but in a foreign country).