Last week, the Swiss government opened discussions on new rules on the integration of foreigners, part of its carrot and stick approach to improving integration and lowering the high rates of unemployment among this group.
According to Le Matin, changes, adopted last December and due to come into force on 1 January 2018, are the first step. These are aimed at improving professional integration and include removal of a special tax paid by refugees on provisional visas.
The next lot of rules, planned for summer 2018, will replace an administratively heavy work authorization process with a simple notification for those on F permits, a provisional 12 month visa typically granted to refugees.
Other new rules will introduce ‘carrot and stick’ provisions. If someone shows favourable progress on integration a permit can be granted for two years. If integration is not progressing well then heavy sanctions could be imposed. Integration will be measured by looking at respect for order and public security, participation in economic life or education, and language acquisition.
Those showing no desire to integrate can be required to sign integration agreements setting out what is expected of them. Failure to live up to the agreement could affect permit renewal. For example, someone with a C permit – a visa granting permanent residence – not meeting integration requirements could find themselves downgraded to a B permit.
Refugees and temporary permit holders receiving welfare could be required to attend integration programmes. If they refuse with no valid reason they could see their benefits cut.