PwC Legal: Immigration Alert Switzerland (11 May 2017)

New labour market restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals


As of 1 June 2016, labour market restrictions were lifted for the gainful employment of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals hired locally in Switzerland. Thus, for the past twelve months, citizens of these two countries have had free access to the Swiss labour market.

Under the terms of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), the so-called ‘safeguard clause’ allows the Swiss Government to reintroduce temporary restrictions on the access of Romania and Bulgaria nationals to the Swiss labour market if the number of new arrivals exceeds a certain threshold. Between June 2016 and May 2017, the number of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals applying for long-term work and residence permits exceeded the threshold.

New labour market restrictions

On 10 May 2017, the Swiss Government decided to limit temporarily the number of long-term work and residence permits (B-permits) for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals to a maximum of 996 B-permits to be released quarterly over the next 12 months. Short-term L-permits are not affected.

The Swiss Government justified its decision based on the fact that, since June 2016, a large number of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals had obtained work permits for seasonal employment in sectors that have above-average unemployment rates.

How does this impact employers/employees?

Romanian and Bulgarian nationals holding B-permits and who will continue to be employed in Switzerland are not affected by the restrictions outlined above. However, the long-term employment of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals not yet residing legally in Switzerland might become more difficult due to the limitation of B-permit quotas to 996 over the next 12 months. Swiss employers may nevertheless continue to employ Romanian and Bulgarian nationals on the basis of short-term L-permits, which are not limited by a quota.


PwC will continue to monitor the Swiss immigration authorities’ practice at the federal and cantonal levels very closely, and we will advise all clients about any upcoming changes.


Please reach out to us should you wish to have more information on this alert.


Your PwC contacts:

Mirela Stoia
PwC Geneva
+41 58 792 91 16

Martin Zeier
PwC Basel
+41 58 792 52 74

Published by

Mirela Stoia

Mirela Stoia

Mirela Stoia
Avenue Giuseppe-Motta 50
1211 Genève 2
+41 58 792 91 16

Mirela Stoia is a Leader in the Swiss immigration team. She is a passionate immigration lawyer with more than ten years experience in the immigration field. Mirela has a Master Law degree from the University of Fribourg. She joined PwC in October 2012 after having worked for several years in the immigration department of a Zurich based law firm and subsequently for a Toronto based global immigration law firm (now KPMG Legal).

Her main focus is to deliver the highest level of immigration services to her clients with a pro-active, solution oriented and pragmatic approach.
Mirela has excellent connections at the Swiss authorities’ level and in the Swiss and international immigration landscape. She has been providing immigration advice and assistance to multinational corporations for many years and she is used to handling complex immigration cases in- and outbound of Switzerland.