Switzerland is an attractive destination for migrants. In the past year, an increasing number of people from Romania and Bulgaria have entered the country for residential and employment purposes, which has affected Switzerland both positively and negatively. The Federal Council recently addressed the issue of how to deal with the negative effects.

On May 10 2017, following political debate, the Federal Council invoked the safeguard clause contained in the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between the European Union and Switzerland. This clause allows Switzerland to implement unilaterally a quota system for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals from June 1 2017 up to May 31 2018.

Consequently, invocation of the safeguard clause will activate a quota system for the issuance of five-year residence permits (B-permits) for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals (EU-2 states).

New quota for EU-2

The safeguard clause is due to affect EU-2 states from June 1 2017. The restrictions apply only to B-permits.

A quota of 996 B-permits for EU-2 states will apply for a one-year period. The quotas will be released on a quarterly basis, hence 249 B-permits for the first quarter from June 1 2017 to August 31 2017.


Short-term work permits (L-permits) for EU-2 nationals will remain unaffected by the measures. Therefore, EU-2 nationals with local employment contracts with a duration of less than one year may register in Switzerland and receive an L-permit without being subject to quota restrictions. They may commence work after registration.

As B-permits will no longer be issued automatically on registration, employers should expect a delay before employees can commence work. EU-2 nationals with local employment contracts with an indefinite duration or a duration of more than one year must first register in Switzerland and await approval of a B-permit by the competent authorities. Employees may commence work in Switzerland only after such approval is granted.

B-permits will be granted by the authorities on a first-come, first-served basis.

It is expected that the cantonal authorities will grant L-permits in cases where the B-permit quota has been reached.

For further information on this topic please contact Adrian Howald at Suter Howald Attorneys at Law by telephone (+41 44 630 4811) or email ( The Suter Howald Attorneys at Law website can be accessed at

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