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Switzerland grants full free movement rights to Croatians

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From January Croatians will have the same rights to live and work in Switzerland as all other EU citizens, although the government can temporarily limit their numbers.

This content was published on October 22, 2021 - 14:47
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The unrestricted opening to Croatia, under Switzerland’s participation in the Free Movement of Persons Agreement, will come into force as of January 1, 2022, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said on FridayExternal link.

Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, but Switzerland had until now opted out of fully opening its borders to its citizens. In 2016 government and parliament approved Croatia’s inclusion in the free movement agreement but had continued to restrict numbers under “transitory provisions”.

On Friday SEM said the decision was taken since there was “no longer any notable imbalance between labour markets” in the two countries. Croatians will thus receive the same treatment as citizens from all other EU – and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – countries, in that they can apply for work and residency permits in Switzerland.

However, under another protocol to the free movement agreement Switzerland could yet limit immigration from Croatia should numbers exceed a certain amount. The right to use this limiting clause expires at the end of 2026.

SEM did not specify on Friday what a threshold figure could be. At the end of last year, 28,324 Croatians were living in Switzerland – that’s 1.9% of all EU and EFTA citizens in the country.

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