Switzerland – Free Movement of Persons Agreement to be Complete June 1, 2016 for Bulgarian and Romanian Citizens

What has changed

Beginning June 1, 2016, the Free Movement of Persons Agreement (FMPA) will be fully in force for nationals of Bulgaria and Romania (EU2); this means that these countries will no longer have any transitional restrictions regarding access to the Swiss labour market (priority of local workforce, check of salary and work conditions and quota system will no longer apply).

Who is affected?

  • Companies with Bulgarian and Romanian workers/prospective workers working in Switzerland

What to expect

On June 1, 2009, Switzerland agreed to be bound by the Protocol II FMPA, which provides for progressive liberalization of conditions of access to the Swiss labour market for Bulgarian and Romanian citizen. Nationals of these countries are subject to transitional restrictions regarding access to the labour market. Until June 1, 2016, work permits for these nationals are subject to:

  • Priority – Bulgarian and Romanian nationals may only be admitted if a person cannot be recruited from the labor market of Switzerland
  • Control of salary and working conditions- a permit is only granted if the salary, social security contributions, and the terms of employment are in accordance with conditions customary to the region and the particular sector. This is to ensure that foreign workers are not exploited and that Swiss workers are protected against wage dumping.
  • Work permit quota – a limited number of short term and long term permits are available and the numbers have progressively increased from 2009 until 2016.

Based on the safety clause, Switzerland may still reintroduce a work permit quota system until May 31, 2019 for these two nationalities provided that the certain conditions are fulfilled, i.e. if the immigration from Bulgaria and Romania exceeds the average of the previous three years by 10%. The Federal Council may decide to reintroduce work permit quota for these two nationalities on June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018.

It may be important to note that immigration from Bulgaria and Romania has been very low in Switzerland, the available quotas have not been exhausted and a decrease of 22.1% has been observed between 2014 and 2015.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Beginning June 1, 2016, clients in Switzerland will be able to easily recruit EU2 Nationals on local contract.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.

The information above was provided by Emigra Worldwide, our global network partners, and relevant government authorities. The information herein is for general purposes only and not intended as advice for a particular matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work.