Federal Office for Migration

Switzerland's admission policy

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With a fifth of the total population, Switzerland is one of the nations with the largest resident foreign population. Furthermore, in the last few years Switzerland has also had the highest ratio of all the OECD nations of people entering the country to claim asylum compared to the number of inhabitants.

The Swiss government has been gradually adapting its policy on foreign nationals and migration to more modern standards and thus taking into account international developments. Its policy is embodied in the Foreign Nationals Act, approved by the Swiss electorate on 24 September 2006 and in force since 1 January 2008.

In view of the conclusion of bilateral agreements with the EU on the free movement of persons, Switzerland introduced a dual system of recruiting foreign labour as long ago as 1 November 1998. Under the system, people from EU and EFTA member states are granted priority admission to the Swiss labour market over people from other countries. According to the provisions of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, which came into force on 1 June 2002, Switzerland and the EU have agreed to implement the complete freedom of movement of persons by 2014.