Global Mobility update: gradual relaxation on Swiss immigration restrictions

Mirela Stoia Director PwC Legal, PwC Switzerland 11 May 2020

The Federal Council recently announced the gradual relaxation of the restrictions on entry in response to the restart of the Swiss economy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The following steps to ease the lockdown on movement of people will come into effect on 11 May 2020.
  • Cantons will process all immigration applications for work and/or residence permits (L or B type permits) and cross-border commuter permits (G type permits) submitted by or on behalf of EU or Non-EU nationals before 25 March 2020. Cantons will also continue to process applications for emergency personnel required in the COVID-19 crisis or for personnel involved in an activity of major public interest, such as guaranteeing the availability of essential goods and services to the population.
  • New online notifications for cross-border assignments will again be processed in accordance with the usual terms of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons if the service provision is based on a written contract signed between the assigning entity and the host Swiss entity before 25 March 2020. For example, a technician from Germany may now obtain an online notification confirmation allowing him to travel to Switzerland to install a machine previously ordered by a Swiss company.
  • Non-EU nationals whose work and/or residence permit applications have been approved by the cantonal migration authority may now, in principle, collect their entry visas and travel to Switzerland. However, this should be checked with the relevant Embassy/Consulate on a case-by-case basis.
  • Reunification for family members of Swiss nationals or of EU nationals living in Switzerland is again possible, but the documentation required to enter Switzerland should be confirmed with the relevant port-of-entry prior to travel.
  • The current border controls will continue, however, additional border crossings will be opened in order to avoid excessive wait times. Flights from abroad will still only be able to land at Zurich, Geneva or Basel airports so that sufficient border control can be facilitated.

All other restrictions on cross-border movement will remain in place for the time being. This means that entering Switzerland is, in principle, only possible for holders of :

  • a Swiss passport;
  • a valid online notification confirmation; 
  • a valid D type visa issued by a Swiss Consulate/Embassy;
  • a valid C type business visa issued by a Swiss Consulate/Embassy for specialists in the medical sector or for a public visit;
  • a valid Swiss work and/or residence permit (B, L, legitimation card or a Ci type permit);
  • a valid G type border commuter work permit, if the G permit holder is required to enter Switzerland for work related reasons;
  • a valid C type establishment permit.

Exceptions continue to be granted to people who need to enter Switzerland for critical work-related reasons or emergencies of major public interest, and for doctors or medical staff urgently needed in Switzerland.

EU nationals who have a signed employment contract with a Swiss company, but do not yet hold a valid Swiss work/residence permit, are generally not able to enter Switzerland to start work. However, certain cantons are making it possible to obtain online notification attestations that would enable such employees to enter Switzerland.

Takeaway

The Swiss immigration restrictions on entry are to be gradually relaxed from 11 May 2020. Applications submitted before 25 March 2020 will be processed, reducing the current backlog. People holding a valid Swiss work and/or residence authorization are able to enter the country. Furthermore, new online notifications for cross-border assignments will be processed if the service provision is based on a written contract signed before 25 March 2020.

PwC Switzerland is continuously monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 situation and changes to the authorities’ practices as a result. We will continue to update our Resarch & Insights page as we have relevant information for you.

Contact us

Mirela Stoia

Mirela Stoia

Director PwC Legal, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 91 16

June Bood

June Bood

Director, People and Organisation, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 17 49

Hans Geene

Hans Geene

Partner, People and Organisation, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 91 24