Foreigners (Non EU/EFTA) graduated from a Swiss university : quotas' removal

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

On 27 October 2021, the Federal Council put to consultation a bill aimed at removing quotas for applications for work permits from foreign nationals (outside the EU/EFTA) graduates of a Swiss university if the activity is of major scientific or economic interest.


What does a quota mean ? A quota is a maximum annual number of permits (short-term “L” and stay “B”). They are allocated by the Confederation to each canton. The quotas allocated to certain cantons during the current calendar year (2021) are as follows :


  • Vaud: 177 L permits and 111 B permits;

  • Geneva: 144 L permits and 90 B permits;

  • Fribourg: 58 L permits and 36 B permits;

  • Valais: 68 L permits and 42 B permits;

  • Neuchâtel: 42 L permits and 26 B permits;

  • Bern: 238 L permits and 149 B permits;

  • Zurich: 394 L permits and 246 B permits.


The amendment to the law would remove quotas for work permits requests of non EU/EFTA citizens graduated from Swiss universities.


What type of studies are covered ? This applies to graduated students in science, but not only. Graduates of natural, social and human sciences can also claim easier access to the labour market.


When an activity has a predominant economic interest ? When there is a demonstrated need for workforce (shortage of specialists) in the area of activity covered by the training, and the orientation followed is highly specialized and appropriate to the proposed job offer.


What is meant by a Swiss university ? These include universities of higher education, cantonal universities, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (“EPF” in French), universities of applied sciences (i.e. HES and HEP) and university institutions eligible for grants (e.g. the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology “LFEM” in French, the Paul Scherrer Institute “IPS” in French and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology “EAWAG”).


Which diplomas would qualify for facilitated access ?


A bachelor, master, doctorate and a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS).


Attention : The Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS), training followed while working, is not considered a diploma from a Swiss university.