Switzerland to offer more support to help non-EU residents integrate
According to the government, non-Swiss and non-EU residents of Switzerland are at greater risk of becoming dependent on social security and unemployment benefits. To counter this, the Federal Council has submitted new measures to increase employment and to reduce the social spending of cantons and councils (Gemeinde).
Swiss government hopes to provide job incentives for expats
In a statement on Wednesday, the Federal Council said they “want to provide incentives for more gainful employment” in the non-EU expat community. Their chief aim is to better integrate residence permit holders into the labour market so that they become less reliant on government aid if they lose their job.
The first proposal aims to provide greater and “deeper support” for third-country nationals in the first few years after being given an L or B residence permit. In practice, this may mean greater access to careers support and employment schemes given out by the government.
Residence permit requirements changing for non-EU citizens
As well as providing greater assistance to return to work, the council also hoped to modify the criteria for non-EU citizens retaining residence permits. Currently, non-EU, EEA or UK citizens cannot renew short term residence permits without gainful employment, making it especially challenging to renew if they are not working.
The Federal Council hopes to amend this clause so that participation in “vocational training” is counted as “gainful employment” when renewing short term residence permits. This is to ensure that people do not take up low paying jobs to fulfil the permit criteria and end up having to apply for hardship or emergency relief as a result.
Finally, the Swiss government hopes to change how all residence permit holders receive a C or settlement permit. This would mean that an applicant's family would be taken into account before a settlement residence permit is granted.
Government hopes to reduce social spending in Switzerland
The council explained that social security spending increased by 900 million Swiss francs between 2010 and 2019, to 2,8 billion Swiss francs a year. Data from the Federal Statistical Office shows that 8,8 percent of non-EU and non-Swiss residents receive social assistance, compared with 2,3 percent among Swiss citizens and 2,8 percent among those from the EU, EEA and UK.
The cost of social security is borne by individual cantons and councils, which is putting increased strain on cantons with large expat communities. The Federal Council hopes that with greater assistance given to expats, they can reduce the cost of social services. They have now opened a consultation period, which will end on May 3, 2022.