On 16th December 2016, The Swiss Government extended the free movement of people agreement to Croatia following parliament’s approval of a law on European Union immigration and jobs; this came into effect on 1st January 2017.
The announcement follows the February 2014 referendum in which Swiss citizens voted in favour of immigration restrictions to limit immigrants from the European Union.
This means that Croatians are entitled to work in Switzerland under transitional provisions, similar to nationals of the EU-8 countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) and EU-2 (Bulgaria, Romania) previously.
There are specific quotas for Croatian nationals wishing to live and work in Switzerland. For the first year (until 31st December 2017) quotas of 543 L permits and 54 B permits have been determined.
To hire a Croatian national on a local employment contract, a Swiss-based company must still apply for a work permit and show that prior search efforts in Switzerland to fill the post have been unsuccessful. This also applies to short term local employment under three months. Online registration is not available for this kind of employment.
This transitional phase will last until 31st December 2023. After this the free movement of persons should apply, whereby the Swiss government can make use of a safety clause to regulate immigration if determined to be excessive. After 31st December 2026, the full freedom of movement should apply to Croatian nationals, as it already does for older EU member states.
Croatian nationals who are assigned from Croatia to Switzerland for working stays up to 90 days per calendar year should be registered online. The procedure is limited to services provided in the general service branches. Notifications need to be made eight days before the first day of work.
During the transitional period, any Croatian provider of services in the following categories needs to be in possession of a work permit from the first day of work:
- Structural and secondary contract work
- Gardening and landscaping
- Cleaning work in companies
- Security services
Please note that the online registration system is not yet in operation; therefore, the registration can be completed by submission of specific registration forms. It is anticipated that the online registration will be up and running in March 2017.
Assignments over 90 days will require work permit approval, as for other EU/EFTA nationals on assignment.
Stays of over 120 days will require a permit quota from the quotas reserved for EU/EFTA nationals on assignment.
Companies intending to hire or assign Croatian nationals in Switzerland are urged to follow the new transitional arrangements as set out above.
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