Switzerland – Quota Availability Status Update


Swiss authorities currently have different types of work permit quotas. The two (2) types of quotas below are applicable to Non-European Union (EU) nationals coming to work (secondment or local) in Switzerland for more than four (4) consecutive months/120 days in a twelve (12) month period and to EU/EFTA nationals officially employed outside of the EU who are seconded in Switzerland for more than four (4) consecutive months/120 days in a twelve (12) month period.

Year L permits* B permits*
2014 5000 3500
2015 4000 2500
2016 4000 2500


*for assignments up to twenty-four (24) months

**for assignment planned for more than twenty-four (24) months


This year, 56% of the L permits quota and 62% of the B permits quota had already been used by the end of June 2016. In several cantons, almost all of the B permits have been used and the relevant cantonal authorities are already using L permits instead of B permits to compensate for the B permit shortage.

Various cantonal authorities will therefore be facing some issues regarding both B and L permits by the end of this year (most likely by September-October). As the remaining number of units will not be sufficient to cover all of the companies’ needs, the authorities will be forced to privilege the applications representing the most important economic interest for Switzerland and/or the region (e.g. executives, positions in a sector of activity with a severe lack of resources, cases with high political implications, companies operating in an innovative sector developing new mandates for the Swiss economy, etc.).

Although some cantons have expressed their concerns to the federal authorities and have asked for new quotas, it is not certain that those will be granted. This has high political implications as the federal authorities must implement by February 2017 the new immigration law voted by the people in 2014, which favors stricter quotas.

What can be done?

  • Reducing short term assignments to four (4) months, which are not subject to quota availability;
  • Evaluating the possibility of applying for a 120 days within a twelve (12) month period work authorization when the worker (e.g. with intensive international travels) is not permanently based in Switzerland, even if the worker is employed by a Swiss company;
  • Notifying the authorities when a work permit has been granted but the person will not use the permit due to a change in plans or if they leave Switzerland prematurely, as it may be possible for the authorities to re-use the granted unit for a new case;
  • Promoting when possible Swiss local employment contracts to EU/EFTA nationals coming to work in Switzerland (instead of secondment status)
  • Selecting the company’s most important assignments for work permit applications and cancelling the less necessary assignments;
  • Utilizing the trainees exchange program that in place between Switzerland and various countries (separate quotas in place for the trainee exchange program)
  • Not waiting until the end of the year to submit important applications.

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.