From 1 January 2019, the rules around renewing Swiss residence permits are different.
The change, decided last year, grants renewals only if certain requirements are met. These include respect for the constitution and its values, respect for public order, participation in economic life1 or education, and competency in the local language.
Language competence will be assumed for those whose mother tongue is spoken in the canton of residence and for those who have completed at least three years of local schooling. Language requirements rise in line with residence rights.
Failure to meet these requirements could result in a permit downgrade, for example from a C permit to a B permit. Other fairly recent changes require a C permit to qualify for naturalisation, so these changes together could stand in the way of some becoming Swiss.
The new rules also require refugees and asylum seekers receiving welfare to participate in integration or job-training programmes or risk having their payments cut. The new rules also make it easier for refugees to access the labour market. A simple announcement will replace the authorisation procedure that refugees and those provisionally admitted must follow. A third party mandated by the cantons to find internships or positions will then be able to carry out this task, which will relieve some of the burden on potential employers.
In addition, the special income tax levied on refugees and asylum seekers will disappear – the tax was designed to recoup the costs of supporting and processing asylum seekers.
1The definition of economic participation is when an individual’s income or wealth or financial support from third parties, to which they are legally entitled, sustainably covers their cost of living. The full definition can be found here.