Switzerland will next year hand out an additional 500 residence permits to people from outside the European Union. Cabinet agreed on Friday to top up the quota from 7,500 to 8,000, responding to demands from business leaders.
The number of B permitsexternal link, which allow someone to work in Switzerland for five years and are automatically extended for five years as long as the person still has a job, will increase from 3,000 to 3,500. The number of short-term L permitsexternal link, which are valid for up to a year, will remain at 4,500. Business leaders had also wanted the number of L permits to be increased.
In addition, cantons Geneva, Zurich and Basel City last month demanded a return to 2014 levels, when levels for B and L permits were 3,500 and 5,000 respectively. Following voters’ acceptance in February 2014 of an initiative to curb immigration, the quotas were cut to 2,500 and 4,000 for 2015 and 2016. Both categories were boosted by 500 for this year.
The situation was alarming, the cantons had warned, because never before had the B and L permits been exhausted so quickly: Basel City used up its share for the year by January 18, Geneva by February 22 and Zurich by the end of March.
In a statementexternal link, the Basel City authorities welcomed Friday’s decision, “although from a point of view of Basel as an economic and research location, a further increase would have been desirable”.
Cabinet also enlarged the quota for service providers from EU or EFTA states (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) staying for more than 90 or 120 days. Next year the number of B Permits will go up from 250 to 500 and the number of L Permits from 2,000 to 3,000 – a return to 2014 levels.
These quotas apply to service providers for whom the freedom of movement agreement between Switzerland and the EU does not apply.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts