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

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.

[UPDATE: The State Secretary of Migration has confirmed that there will be no quota for short-term L permits for EU-2 nationals.]


From 1 June 2016, the Swiss government lifted the immigration restrictions on nationals of Bulgarian and Romania, in accordance with the bilateral Agreement on free movement of persons with the EU.

The Swiss Federal Council announced on 10 May 2017 that it would impose the quota, invoking the “safeguard clause” provided for in its bilateral treaty with the EU.

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 residence office of the municipality of residence.

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.

Upcoming Labour Market Test Requirement

As we noted here, 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.

This alert was prepared using information provided by Sgier und Partner.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.