A Swiss government commission decided last week that recent legal changes to help temporary permit holders qualify for permanent residency in Switzerland are not strict enough when it comes to integration requirements.
Foreigners on temporary permits have been in the firing line in Switzerland for some time. Because returning to their home country often isn’t possible, a majority are not temporary. For this reason the Federal Council, or cabinet, put forward some options to help integrate this group in October 2016.
The commission looked at these options and has put forward a plan. It wants to grant “protected person” status to those on temporary permits who look like they might be in Switzerland for a while. This status would remove any time limit on a temporary visa in order to improve the chances of the holder finding work. In addition, a time-limited status: “provisionally protected person”, would be granted to those not qualifying for “protected person” status.
Those in this second category would not qualify for family reunification. On the other hand, those “protected persons” would qualify for family reunification if they are able to show they are sufficiently financially secure, integrated into the workforce and have fulfilled certain integration requirements.
On the integration requirements, the commission called for a tightening which would include: being actively integrated into the workforce, acceptance of Swiss laws and local values, and sufficient knowledge of the local language.
In addition, repeated refusal to make an effort to integrate, or significant and sustained dependance on social aid, would be grounds for revoking a permit.
In March 2017, a majority in the Council of States, or upper house, voted in favour of stricter rules. For them the rule changes in December 2016 didn’t go far enough and left the courts with too much room for manoeuvre.
The government must now define its plan, which is likely to trigger additional integration requirements at a cantonal level.