Swiss immigration statistics 2019

The SEM (“Secrétariat d’Etat aux Migrations”) has just released the latest numbers concerning Swiss immigration statistics for 2019.

In a nutshell, Swiss immigration has remained relatively stable in 2019. 71’248 foreigners have migrated from the UE/AELE zone and 31’023 foreigners from non-EU countries. The majority of foreigners migrated for employment purposes. Family reunification procedures consisted 29% of permit applications, where 29’873 B permits were delivered for “regroupement familial” between January and September 2019 (Source: SYMIC).

At the end of September 2019, 2’101’915 foreigners, composed of 68% of UE-28/AELE citizens, were registered as living in Switzerland. Out of this number, the foreigner population consisted of  1’375’153 C permits holders, 705’211 B permits and 21’551 L permits (Source: SYMIC).

The different types of immigration procedures in Switzerland

From January to September 2019, the different types of permit procedures were registered:

  • Work permits for EU-28/AELE citizens: 46.3% of permit applications (B, L and G)
  • Family reunification: 29.2% of permit applications (B)
  • Students: 9.2% of permit applications (B temporary)
  • Asylum: 4.5% of permit applications (N, F and B)
  • Work permits for non-EU citizens subject to yearly quotas: 4.3% (B and L)
  • Retirees or people without any activity: 3.3% (B)
  • Cases of exception: 3.2% (B and L)

Service providers coming from the EU-28/AELE zone consisted of 54% of L permit applications and 56% of B EU permit applications. For the month of January 2019 only, 9'011 foreigners arrived in Switzerland for work purposes. Cross-borders workers consisted of 5563 G permit applications (Source: SYMIC).  

Quotas for non-EU work permits

At the end of September 2019, 574 B permits and 596 L permits remained available in the whole country for non-EU workers, out of the 4500 B permits and 4000 L permits available at the beginning of the year (Source: SYMIC).  

Permits for exceptional cases

From January to September 2019, 3310 B permits for exceptions to art. 30 LEI were granted. For example, 725 permits were granted to foreigners without status living in Switzerland for a number of years in the context of "Papyrus operation". A number of asylum seekers were granted a B permit after holding a F (temporary) permit for a certain period. Additionally, a small number of permits (21) were granted for “major public interests”, such as the lump sum tax agreement (Source: SYMIC).  

To sum up, these numbers confirm that Switzerland attracts a large number of EU-28/AELE workers. Family reunification permit applications consist of roughly 30% of all permit applications, which could have induced the recent changes brought to the law on Foreigners and Integration regarding integration requirements such as being able to speak the language of the domicile at a A1 level to maintain a B permit (art. 42 and 43 al. 1 let. d LEI).  

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