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EU immigrant numbers grow steadily

At the end of December last year, 1,026,495 European Union citizens were resident in Switzerland, an increase of 6.8 per cent on the previous year.

According to the latest figures released by the Federal Migration Office, 1.6 million foreigners had residence permits out of a total population of 7.6 million. These foreigners include people born in Switzerland of foreign parents.

While the number of EU citizens is growing steadily, new arrivals from other parts of the world increased by only 0.4 per cent and many nationality groups – such as Serbian, Croatian and Sri Lankan – are seeing declining numbers.

This is a reflection of the new law on foreigners, which allows only the recruitment of highly qualified workers from the rest of the world.

Germans remain the largest group of newcomers – 31,463 more people from the neighbouring country moved to Switzerland last year, bringing the total German population to 233,352. However, Italians remain the largest immigrant group with 290,000.

The Federal Migration Office statistics exclude asylum seekers.

Traffic is moving both way, with 20 per cent more Swiss people living abroad than a decade ago. In 2008, more than 8,000 Swiss moved abroad, taking the overall total of Swiss expatriates to 676,176.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR