Swiss Migration Policy

For most of the 19th century, the Swiss confederation had net emigration. That changed with industrialization late in the century. Immigration was more tightly regulated after the World War I and more so after World War II but continued, much of it from asylum-seekers and seasonal workers.

 

Immigration restrictions were relaxed after the turn of the 21st century, particularly for migrants from EU countries. The resulting long term labor-market immigration was called into question by the February 2014 referendum calling for re-imposition of migration quotas, however, it is not yet clear when or how the referendum will be implemented.

 

Immigration to Switzerland today is large relative to the population and population growth rate and is ethnically diverse. In those respects it resembles the pattern of immigration to the United States during the Ellis Island era. As a small country surrounded by other European countries, Switzerland's economy and migration patterns are, however, dependent on developments and policies in those neighboring countries, including how the EU deals with refugee inflows from the Middle East and North Africa.