Switzerland – The Swiss Foreign Nationals and Integration Act

What has changed

The Swiss Foreign Nationals Act is now called the Swiss Foreign Nationals and Integration Act.

As part of the preliminary revision that began January 1, 2018, authorities in some Swiss jurisdictions already have been verifying the level of integration into Swiss society for particular foreigners’ immigration categories and specific administrative procedures.

Beginning January 1, 2019, all Swiss jurisdictions will verify foreigner’s level of integration with a special focus on local language skills proficiency before extending a B permit for family reunion* and converting a B permit into a C permit**.

The Swiss authorities will verify that the foreigner respects the legal order and democratic principles (no criminal record, no financial pursuits, etc.), is willing to participate in economic life (employment, studies, training, etc.), and learns the local language spoken at place of residence (German, French or Italian).

The standard check impacts mainly*** the following situations:

  1. Family reunion for a Non-EU national with the holder of a B/C/F permit for Non-EU national (for granting initial permit or extending the permit after twelve (12) months [if A1 level was not attested when the initial permit was granted]). The local language skills include level A1 proficiency or confirmation of language lesson subscription.
  2. The standard issuance of permanent residence C permit (after five [5] or ten [10] years depending on nationality).** The language skills levels include level A2 speaking and A1 writing.

According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL).

*Not applicable for B permit for family reunion issues based on the Free Movement of Persons Agreement.

**This does not apply to the following nationalities: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Principality of Liechtenstein, and Spain.

***Less ordinary situations are affected as well such as working in the education sector, the re-issuance of C permit after status retrograding, or a return to Switzerland after a long-term absence, etc.

Who is affected

All clients who employ foreign workers who are pursuing one of the permit categories listed above.

What to expect

This change is not expected to significantly impact corporate immigration. However, integration should continue to be an important HR topic, as the extension of residence permits under certain circumstances and depending on the jurisdiction may hinge on successful integration.

Authorities may be less strict in application requirements for executives, and highly-qualified specialists of multinational companies, if they possess a good knowledge of English. However, the authorities, depending on the jurisdiction and a case-by-case basis, authorities reserve the right to proceed with a standard check of integration level for any Non-EU national who plans to live in Switzerland on a permanent basis.

The details of the related administrative procedures will depend on the particular jurisdiction and have not been fully determined. In consideration of the additional workload that this change represents for the authorities, the full application of the integration levels as well as the related administrative procedures may be implemented step by step.

Emigra Worldwide will keep clients informed about updates related to new procedures and their impact on ongoing and upcoming assignments.

What you need to do

Emigra Worldwide can assist on a case-by-case basis to understand integration requirements, determining when an integration check is applicable, and advising on how to secure the necessary documentation.

Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.