EU Ministers at the Brussels summit in talks to re-introduce border controls within the Schengen area

European Union Ministers are meeting in Brussels 20 November 2015 to discuss the tightening of Schengen borders following the attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015.

It is anticipated that the EU Ministers will re-introduce checks on both EU and Non-EU travellers at the borders of the 26 countries of the Schengen zone.

Latest reports are stating that sources have confirmed that the Interior ministers of the EU members are backing France’s call for the re-introduction of increased and systematic checks of all citizens at the borders.

Expected changes include a push for enhanced use of technology to better control external and internal borders, in addition to the implementation of a passenger information register. Collection of passenger information will likely be checked against a database of known or suspected terrorists and criminals. The Ministers will also be looking to examine and restrict the movement of firearms within the EU.

In addition, there will be increased requirements for Schengen visa applications. From today, biometric data collection and personal appearance has become a mandatory requirement for obtaining visas for Germany, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands. This process is also in place for France, Spain and Switzerland. We expect that increased application requirements will also be implemented and formally announced by other Schengen countries following the summit.

We are monitoring developments as they happen, and will provide further updates on the outcome of the summit once they are formally announced.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to your Swiss legal team or e-mail me

The 2015 work permit quota levels have been re-confirmed for 2016

The Swiss Government has decided to keep the quota levels unchanged for 2016, although the numbers are significantly lower than in 2014:

  • Non-EU: 4’000 L permits and 2’500 B permits
  • EU/EFTA assignees: 2’000 L permits and 250 B permits

Whilst the quotas for Non-EU nationals are released annually and allocated to the cantons according to a set amount, the quotas for EU /EFTA assignees are released quarterly Swiss-wide. Until now we have not experienced any shortage of Non-EU quotas; however, the quotas for EU/EFTA assignees have been reached very quickly each quarter, which has and will continue to cause difficulties for EU service provid-ers in deploying resources in Switzerland.

Please note that the following types of permits are not subject to quotas: work permits valid for up to 4 months or 120 days issued to EU/EFTA or Non-EU nationals, crossborder commuter permits, work and residence permits issued to EU/EFTA citizens employed on the basis of a local Swiss work contract, and dependant permits.

What can we expect in 2016?

We do not expect major changes in the practice of the cantonal and federal authorities compared to 2015: the Zurich and Aargau Labour Departments are likely to continue pursuing their current stringent practice, whereas other cantons, in particular in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, will take a more economi-cally friendly approach.

To maximise the success of applications in all Swiss cantons, we advise companies to submit solidly drafted and complete applications and to ensure that the salaries paid to foreign employees are in line with Swiss local salary levels.

Please note that, as of May 2016, access to the Swiss labour market for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals will no longer be restricted.

Update on the implementation of the Mass Immigration Initiative

On 9 February 2014, a new constitutional provision (121a Swiss Constitution) was approved by 50.34% of the Swiss electorate. The provision has the intention of reducing mass immigration into Switzerland and requires that immigration be restricted by means of quantitative limits and quotas. These new restrictions are expected to enter into force as of February 2017.

Current status: A first draft of the implementation law is now available and will form the basis for political debate and future immigration policy. The RASA initiative has just been validated and may impact the process. The Swiss government appointed Jacques de Watteville for the negotiations with the EU, which represent another unknown factor in the equation.

PwC is closely monitoring the situation and actively discussing any updates with the Swiss authorities. We will keep you apprised of any new changes.

Infographic: Global Immigration Switzerland
The 2015 work permit quota levels have been re-confirmed

 

For more information on the topic discussed above please contact our experts:

Mirela Stoia, Senior Manager, +41 58 792 91 16, mirela.stoia@ch.pwc.com
Martin Zeier, Director, +41 58 792 52 74, martin.zeier@ch.pwc.com

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