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Quotas cut for non-EU skilled workers


From January 1, Swiss companies will be able to recruit fewer skilled workers from outside the European Union than at present. The cabinet decided on Friday to lower the quotas in an attempt to improve the potential of the home-grown workforce.

In 2015, Swiss companies will be limited to a total of 6,500 specialists from third countries outside the EU and EFTA. The government has allowed for 4,000 short-stay permits and 2,500 B permits (a five-year residence permit granted to people who have an unlimited employment relationship or a job lasting at least 12 months). Quotas for both permits have been reduced by 1,000 each.

Also reduced will be the maximum number of service providers from the EU and ETFA (including Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) who can come to Switzerland for a duration of more than 90 or 120 days – and to whom the free movement agreement does not apply.

Those current 3,000 short-stay permits will drop to 2,000 in number, and the longer-stay permits will halve from 500 to 250.

The cabinet said in a statement that the reduction was intended to create an incentive for Swiss companies to make more effective use of the Swiss workforce.

It is the first time in four years that the government has changed work quotas. In 2011, it raised limits from 7,000 to the current figure of 8,500.

On Sunday, Swiss voters will decide on whether to limit net immigration to 0.2% of the population over a three-year average in the so-called “Ecopop” initiative. The organisers of the initiative claim this is necessary to save the environment. There is strong opposition from the governmentExternal link, all the main political parties, the business community, trade unions, churches and most charities. 

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR