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Immigration in Switzerland: what has changed in 2023-2024?

Influenced by economic, political and social factors, immigration is a complex process that shapes modern societies in many ways.

In Switzerland, immigration has been accentuated by a rich history of welcoming diverse populations.

With four national languages, world-renowned universities, many multinationals and NGOs, and a proven quality of life, Switzerland is more attractive than ever.

However, immigration regulations are often changing, and navigating through all this information can be difficult.

In this article, we have compiled all the latest reforms that could have an impact on immigration procedures in Switzerland.

Migration Reforms and Policies

For the past few years, Switzerland has faced a shortage of skilled workers in various sectors such as information technology, engineering, and healthcare.

In response to this issue, since 1 February 2023, cantonal authorities can be more flexible when recruiting internationals for skilled positions in one of the affected sectors.

In concrete terms, they can be more flexible on the requirements regarding professional qualifications and proof that recruitment was not possible in Switzerland. 

skilled worker moving to Switzerland
specific quotas for SWISS B and L permits for Croatian citizens

Focus on Croatia

The number of Croatian workers has exceeded the thresholds set by the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons.

Therefore, the Swiss Federal Council reintroduced specific quotas for B and L permits for Croatian citizens in 2023 and 2024 (effective until December 31, 2024).

Crisis in Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine has led to an influx of refugees into Europe. In 2023, the Swiss government continued to implement temporary measures to accommodate Ukrainian refugees by providing them with quick access to housing, healthcare, and education.

The authorities have also simplified the asylum application procedures for Ukrainians, recognizing the severity of the humanitarian situation.

As a result, approximately 65,000 Ukrainian nationals currently hold an S permit, granting them access to the labour market for at least until March 4, 2025.

This situation can represent an opportunity for recruiters seeking to attract talent without going through the immigration process. However, the availability of these talents is naturally linked to the evolution of the situation in Ukraine, as the interruption or revocation of S status could result in the loss of work eligibility.

S permits issued to Ukrainians

At the same time, Switzerland is implementing measures to integrate as many Ukrainians as possible into the labour market. This includes supporting the acquisition of language skills, with an allocation of 3,000 francs per person per year.

The Federal Council’s goal is to increase the employment rate from the current 20% to 40% by the end of 2024.

Language test 

In recent years, Switzerland has implemented language requirements for certain residence permits to improve immigrant integration.

Since 2019, spouses arriving as part of family reunification with a third-country national who already holds a residence permit must validate a spoken A1 level in the language of the canton of residence.

And since late 2022, it is now applicants for C permits who must demonstrate linguistic integration in the language of the canton of residence.

Here’s a recap of the different scenarios where a language test is required:

Specific casesRequired levelWho is concerned?
Family reunification: to obtain and extend a residence permit (B)💬 A1
• Spouses of B or C residence permit holders
• After dissolution of the marriage or the family
Family reunification:
to obtain a permanent residence permit (C)
💬 A2
✍️ A1
• Spouses of permanent residence permit holders (C permit)
Spouses of Swiss citizens
To obtain a permanent residence permit (C)💬 A2
✍️ A1
Foreign nationals who have lived uninterrupted in Switzerland for 10 years or depending on nationality
Foreign nationals reissued with a residence permit after a stay abroad
To obtain a fast-track permanent residence permit (C)💬 B1
✍️ A1
Fast-track residence permit after five years’ uninterrupted residence in Switzerland
To acquire Swiss nationality💬 B1
✍️ A2
• Standard naturalisation after 10 years in Switzerland
• Simplified naturalisation for spouses of Swiss citizens after five years of marriage and cohabitation.

However, don’t panic if spoken language skills are not at the required level. Proof of enrolment on a language course is sufficient, as long as it enables you to reach the required level. The cantonal migration service will then set a date by which an attestation of language proficiency must be presented.

2024 quotas: where do we stand?  

The Federal Council has decided to maintain the same maximum number of permits as in 2023 to stabilise and strengthen the economy in response to the shortage of specialized labour affecting various sectors.

residence permit quotas in Switzerland in 2024

Challenges and outlook

Housing and infrastructure  

One of the major challenges posed by immigration to Switzerland is the pressure on the housing market and public infrastructure. The influx of new residents has increased the demand for affordable housing and public services. The Swiss authorities are actively working to find sustainable solutions, such as building new housing and improving transport and health services.

Shortage of skilled workers 

The general trend for 2024 is to continue to balance the need to address skills shortages while respecting political and regulatory constraints.

Political Perspectives

Immigration issues remain a sensitive topic in Swiss political discourse. In 2024, significant elections could influence future migration policies. Political parties differ on how to manage immigration, with some advocating for stricter restrictions while others support a more open and inclusive approach.


The immigration sector in Switzerland in 2023-2024 is shaped by political reforms, humanitarian responses to international crises, and ongoing efforts to integrate immigrants. 

Challenges remain numerous, but Switzerland strives to find a balance between welcoming newcomers and preserving the country’s social and economic cohesion.

Future developments will largely depend on political decisions and the global dynamics of migration.