Fewer foreigners arrive in Switzerland during pandemic year

Most foreigners in Switzerland hold a European nationality. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

While the overall number of foreigners in the country increased in 2020, the number of new arrivals fell. 

This content was published on February 4, 2021 - 15:04

The coronavirus crisis has had an impact on annual immigration figures, according to figures released by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) on Thursday. 

Arrivals who are registered as permanent residents (136,962) decreased by 2.6% compared with 2019. Immigration of temporary residents from abroad (77,539) fell by 23.5%.  

While immigration increased in the first quarter of 2020 owing to a good economic outlook, it fell in the second quarter, the SEM said. Protective measures to contain the pandemic was largely to blame. In the third and fourth quarters the lifting of restrictions had a catch-up effect, particularly in terms of student arrivals. 

Fewer leaving too 

Fewer foreigners left the country despite Switzerland experiencing a relatively high number of coronavirus infections compared with other parts of the world.  

A total of 70,270 permanent foreign residents left the Alpine nation last year, 12.1% less than in 2019. An emigration drop of 14.1% was recorded for non-permanent residents, with 55,885 departures. 

At the end of 2020 over two million (2,151,854) foreign nationals were resident in Switzerland, an increase of 1.9% compared with 2019. Almost 1.5 million were EU/EFTA and UK nationals and fewer than 700,000 were from third countries. Switzerland has a total population of 8.6 million as of 2019. 

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