In 2021, Switzerland received 123 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status), 4.1% more than in 2020. This figure comprises 76.6% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 1.9% labour migrants, 11.8% family members (including accompanying family) and 6.6% humanitarian migrants. Around 6 100 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 48 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants.

Germany, Italy and France were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2021. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Germany registered the strongest increase (+1 400) and the United Kingdom the largest decrease (-1 400) in flows to Switzerland compared to the previous year.

In 2022, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 74%, to reach around 23 000. The majority of applicants came from Afghanistan (6 900), Türkiye (4 700) and Eritrea (1 600). The largest increase since 2021 concerned nationals of Afghanistan (+4 000) and the largest decrease nationals of Eritrea (-100). Of the 12 000 decisions taken in 2022, 86% were positive.

Emigration of Swiss citizens to OECD countries increased by 13% in 2021, to 9 800. Approximately 21% of this group migrated to Germany, 17% to Spain and 8% to the Netherlands.

Switzerland has implemented in 2023 relaxed rules for highly skilled Third-country nationals, which include the lift of the labour market test for labour migrants working in industries with a skills shortage, and the eligibility for a residence permit even without an academic education. Foreign nationals who have been granted a B-permit with no restrictions or conditions, may apply for self-employment through a facilitated procedure.

In November 2022, Switzerland invoked the safeguard clause for Croatia. This clause temporarily reintroduced quotas on the number of permits issued to Croatian nationals as immigration from that country exceeds a certain threshold. Therefore, in 2023, restrictions will apply on the number of short-stay permits and work/residence permits issued to Croatian nationals.

Visa applications from earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria, whose home has been destroyed and who can temporarily stay with close relatives in Switzerland, were given priority until 12 May 2023. If the person intends to stay for more than 90 days, they require a permit.

Following the changes introduced in the EU’s modernised Professional Qualifications Directive, recognition of qualifications’ procedures among EU mobile citizens are now carried out entirely online.

The protection status S for Ukrainians has been extended by one year and also extends the specific support measures. Federal funding focuses in particular to promote language learning so that Ukrainians can quickly take up employment and become socially integrated. As of 2023, status “S” holders aged above 15 can apply and complete an apprenticeship (i.e. participation in a formal company training programme with cantonal approval) in Switzerland, even if the “S” status for temporary protection has been lifted before completion. If “S” status is lifted, the State Secretariat for Migration will examine the applications on a case-by-case basis and approve those that meet the criteria.

Following a recent judgment from the Swiss Federal Court, as of October 2022, nationals of countries with which Switzerland has concluded a settlement agreement (Austria, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain) must meet the same integration conditions as nationals of other countries and submit a certificate proving that they passed an A2 (spoken) and A1 level (written) language test (under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) after an uninterrupted stay of five years in Switzerland. Exceptions include tertiary-educated foreign nationals with the same native language as the one spoken in their place of residence or with recognised language proficiency.

Since 2018, the pre-apprenticeship integration programme PAI+ has prepared refugees and asylum seekers to integrate the labour market through apprenticeship. The programme has been extended to young adults outside of the asylum channel since 2021, and to Ukrainians with S status since 2022. From May 2022, the R programme supported Cantons to implement ad hoc measures for immigrants who have fled their country of origin. The programme aims to avoid social isolation, strengthen their resources and skills, and help them integrate into the labour market.

For further information: www.sem.admin.ch

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2023

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at https://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.