Switzerland

 

2014

  • Rank: 21 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 49
  • LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY 59
  • FAMILY REUNION 48
  • EDUCATION 42
  • HEALTH 70
  • POLITICAL PARTICIPATION 58
  • PERMANENT RESIDENCE 51
  • ACCESS TO NATIONALITY 31
  • ANTI-DISCRIMINATION 31

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Large and long-established country of net immigration, with large 2nd generation born & raised in CH
  • Nearly 2/3 of foreign-born are EU citizens
  • Equal numbers of low, medium, and high-educated non-EU immigrants
  • Highest employment rate in Europe for decades (alongside IS)
  • Since 1959, Grand Coalition in Federal Council of major 'government parties'; Since 2003, stronger right-wing majority among the 5 parties, including CH People's Party
  • Levels of anti-immigrant sentiment appear average for Europe and slightly decreasing over time

Key Common Statistics

Country of net migration since:% Non-EU citizens% Foreign-born% Non-EU of foreign-born% Non-EU university-educated % from low or medium-developed (HDI) country
<1950s8.5%26.2%40%28%49%
UN 2010 data in 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013

Changes in policy

Immigrants may benefit from more funding for integration courses and advice services, while certain children may benefit from greater access and support at school, thanks to the HarmoS agreement signed by 15 cantons. The 2011 system for encouraging integration assigned responsibilities for integration to mainstream services at local and cantonal level and pooled together funding and support through the cantonal integration programmes 2014-2017.

Federal reforms has been a slow process in the areas related to integration. Certain issues – like a comprehensive anti-discrimination law or voting rights – remain off the political agenda or fail in popular initiatives. Despite the 2008 introduction of integration agreements, cantons still differ in how they define integration in their conditions for family reunion, long-term residence and nationality. The total revision of the Nationality Law, announced in 2009, finally led in 2014 to minor improvements and some restrictions. Reform of the Foreigners and Integration Act was delayed by the results of the so-called referendum 'against massive immigration' on 9 February 2014. Since the referendum puts priority on access to the labour market for residents, the government is considering to facilitate integration measures and labour market access for beneficiaries of provisional admission.

Conclusions and recommendations

Scoring 49/100 overall, most CH federal and cantonal policies create an almost equal number of opportunities and obstacles for non-EU immigrants to fully participate in CH society. 
Obstacles emerge throughout the legal framework. Victims of discrimination are less protected and supported in CH than anywhere else on the continent. CH policies on non-EU citizens are demanding but not strongly encouraging their integration, with often new, weak and uneven support across the country. Faced with some of the most restrictive policies in Western Europe, non-EU citizens in CH are less likely to reunite with their family, enjoy a secure status or become a full citizen. 
Opportunities mostly emerge through trends in cantons' integration practices. The innovations in major CH cantons'  healthcare systems were classified as world-leading. Cantonal policies on labour market mobility and political participation come close to what's average in Western Europe. Depending on the canton, non-EU immigrants have very different options for the labour market, public life, education and training and health services. These differences between cantons are well monitored by academic and policy research (CFM). Integration policymakers have started to monitor integration through commonly agreed indicators and evaluate their own success at integration policy through cantons' use of integration funds.

Policy Recommendations from the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies

  • Increase uptake of adult education and training for all groups, including migrants 
  • Increase recognition of foreign academic and professional qualifications 
  • Increase uptake of bridging courses and work placements for both low- and high-educated 
  • Support immigrants' participation in civil society 
  • Increase uptake of mainstream support services through training on transcultural competence, greater flexibility for workers and young parents & solutions for financing translation and interpretation

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POLICIES - SUMMARY

  • LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY

    Score:

    Switzerland
    vs.
    MIPEX 38
    • 18 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

      26%
    • Real Beneficiaries

      21%
  • FAMILY REUNION

    Score:

    Switzerland
    vs.
    MIPEX 38
    • 33 of 38
    • Outcome Indicators

      2
  • EDUCATION

    Score:

    Switzerland
    vs.
    MIPEX 38
    • 18 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

      24%
    • Real Beneficiaries

      46%
  • HEALTH

    Score:

    Switzerland
    vs.
    MIPEX 38
    • 2 of 38
  • POLITICAL PARTICIPATION

    Score:

    Switzerland
    vs.
    MIPEX 38
    • 12 of 38
    • Real Beneficiaries

      36%
  • PERMANENT RESIDENCE

    Score:

    Switzerland
    vs.
    MIPEX 38
    • 31 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

      78%
    • Outcome Indicators

      59%
  • ACCESS TO NATIONALITY

    Score:

    Switzerland
    vs.
    MIPEX 38
    • 31 of 38
    • Potential Beneficiaries

      61%
    • Outcome Indicators

      3%
  • ANTI-DISCRIMINATION

    Score:

    Switzerland
    vs.
    MIPEX 38
    • 35 of 38

Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

CH's flexible and inclusive labour market provides jobs for most CH, EU and long-settled non-EU citizens; The un- or under-employed could benefit from  greater access and targeted support to recognise their foreign degrees and obtain CH degrees or vocational training

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants could be employed?

Just 1/4 of working-age non-EU citizens in CH are not in employment, education or training. These numbers are similar to Nordics, NL, UK and low compared to the average European country (around 1/3, in e.g. AT, DE, up to 45% in FR). In CH as in most countries, the numbers not in employment, education and training are greater among low-educated women (43%) and men (1/3). CH's National Integration Indicators also indicate that language skills are generally important on the CH labour market. Even 30% of CH and EU citizens said that better language skills in one of the local official languages would improve their job prospects. Among non-EU citizens, 1/2 from other European countries and 2/3 from the rest of the world reported this need.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

Many non-EU newcomers to CH still face limited and delayed access to the labour market and mainstream support compared to those in most other Western European countries. They may have less access to public sector jobs, self-employment, study grants and the most effective targeted programmes, while the procedures  to recognise foreign diplomas are more complex in CH than elsewhere. All of this can discourage or delay them to invest in their skills and careers over the long term. As a result, CH only ranks 18th on labour market mobility policies, on par with late-comers BE and AT and far behind major reformers, such as DE, PT, Nordics.

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • More delays and restrictions than on average in Western Europe; only slightly favourable access for long-term residents and family migrants (22nd out of 38 on access, see instead CA/US, Nordics, IT, NL, UK)
  • Most cantons close off parts of the public sector, though migrants can work in federal public jobs (equal access in 15 MIPEX countries, e.g. Nordics NL, UK)
  • Cantons may also restrict and delay access to self-employment for non-EU workers and family migrants until they acquire long-term residence (as in only 8 others countries)

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • As in most countries, all non-EU citizens in CH can access public employment services since 1989 and procedures to recognise non-formal skills since 2002
  • Educated non-EU citizens face complicated procedures to recognise their academic and professional degrees (see instead AU/NZ, NL, UK, Nordics, recently DE)
  • Cantons can restrict study grants to long-term residents (a delay of 10 years for non-EU citizens), which may deny newcomers the support to obtain the CH degrees much desired by potential employers (only so restrictive in 10 other countries, see full access in 11 e.g. Integration benefits in Nordic countries)

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • Basic integration support is still rather weak for labour market integration in CH, slightly behind other Western European countries (see AT, DE, Nordics) 
  • Trainings for public employment services to open to diversity since 2009 (as in 10 other countries)
  • Increasing work-related language courses can better help immigrants find jobs (see similar initiatives in 9 other countries)
  • Federal & cantonal authorities may take inspiration from other countries' work bridging/placement programmes, employment mentors/coaches and one-stop-shops to inform newcomers or recognise their qualifications

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • All non-EU workers enjoy generally equal rights as CH workers, as in most countries
  • Non-EU newcomer workers may not have equal access to housing, depending on the canton (similar problem in half the countries, but equal access in 13 e.g. FR, DE, NL, Nordics)

Real beneficiaries

Are immigrants acquiring new skills?

Education and training programmes are reaching some non-EU men and women (1/5 recently enrolled according to 2011/2 estimates), especially high-educated men and women (around 40% recently enrolled). These levels of lifelong learning are slightly higher than in CH's neighbouring countries (AT, FR, DE, IT). But uptake is far higher (around 1/3) for non-EU men, women and the low-educated in the Nordics and, until recently, NL & UK (around 1/3). Unlike these countries, CH and the other European countries have lower enrollment rates for low-educated men and women (around 12%), despite their greater need for labour market support.  At least most unemployed non-EU citizens in CH could count on their unemployment benefits to help them in their search for a new job. This level was similar to AT and could be explained by CH's long-settled non-EU population that meets the general criteria for unemployment support.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?

  • One of highest employment rates in developed world with modest GDP growth since 2010  
  • Some of the most flexible employment protection legislation in Europe
  • 2/3 of all valid permits for work purposes
  • 23% of non-EU men and women, both low- and high-educated, do not speak one of the national languages (and few speak 2-3) 

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?

The majority of long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years' stay) have a job in CH, whether men or women, high- or low-educated. According to 2011/2 data, these long-settled non-EU-born are usually just as likely to have a job as CH-born with the same gender and level of education. This holds for low- and high-educated men and, to some extent, low-educated women. The gap is greatest for high-educated non-EU women who are 17% less likely to have jobs than high-educated CH-born women. 

These non-EU workers are nevertheless often in worse jobs than the CH-born, with high-educated men and women 40% more likely to be over-qualified for their jobs and the low-educated nearly 2x as likely to be living in poverty. The gaps in overqualification rates are much lower in CH than on average in Europe. Across Europe, including CH, low-educated men are more likely than women to suffer in-work poverty, while high-educated women are more likely than men to suffer over-qualification. Clearly these employment outcomes are influenced by CH's flexible & growing labour markets and positive work migration flows. International research suggests that improvements to CH's labour market mobility policies could also improve employment outcomes through equal access to the labour market, formal recognition of foreign degrees and facilitating the acquisition of domestic degrees, work experience, permanent residence and citizenship.

Family Reunion

Key Findings

One of the most restrictive family reunion policies and rates in Western Europe, with disproportionate effects on vulnerable groups

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?

Transnational couples are one of the main potential beneficiaries for family reunion, but they are rarely identified through statistics and assisted to reunite. While estimates were not calculated for CH, 2011/2 estimates from 17 European countries suggest that on average 5-7% of non-EU citizen adults were not living with their spouse or partner. These non-EU citizens are likely living in internationally separated couples and thus potential sponsors for family reunion.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

Non-EU families face some of the least favourable family reunion procedures in CH, scoring 48/100 and ranking 33rd out of 38, far below most European countries (scoring 61 on average). Non-EU citizens cannot apply for their entire nuclear family and face some of the most restrictive requirements in the developed world. Reunited family members may be dependent on their sponsor for years through limited access to work, training/grants and residence permits. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The possibility to reunite with family exists for most non-EU citizens (as in 27 MIPEX countries) whenever they can meet the requirements (as in 14)
  • The definition of the family for non-EU foreigners is unfavourable for family's integration and the most restrictive in the developed world, alongside only CY, DE, GR
  • Restrictions extend to minor children (unlike in 34 out of 38). Adult children and parents of CH citizens can only reunite in 'exceptional humanitarian cases' (unlike in 25)
  • Immigration laws recognise same-sex partners, but not long-term relationships (unlike in 17, e.g. Benelux, Nordics, PT/ES, UK)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • More restrictive requirements than 34 other MIPEX countries
  • Beyond the 3 basic minimum conditions in law (no social assistance, living together, appropriate accommodation), cantons can impose even more, whose effects may be to delay the family's arrival and integration
  • Sponsors and family must also pass assessments of their language skills and integration, without the exceptions for vulnerable groups and enough guaranteed courses and materials for all applicants. Positively, free courses are proposed to non-EU citizens with specific needs through integration contracts since cantonal integration programmes (CIPs) since 2014
  • Costly and long procedures can delay arrival for newcomers

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Family migrants' relative insecurity in their status in CH may soon be greater than in any other developed country, depending on the option chosen after the Referendum on Foreign Criminals' Expulsion
  • CH already scores 50/100, ranking 22nd out of 38 on the family's security of status, with short-term permits and wide grounds for rejections and withdrawals (e.g. long-term depedence on social assistance)  
  • Authorities and courts may soon have no choice but to break up families if a parent or child receives certain criminal convictions, no matter how long-settled or well-integrated they are in CH as their home (families are only so insecure in JP, IS, LV, TU)

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Reunited families have fewer opportunities to integrate in CH than in 29 out of the 38 countries
  • Denied equal access to public and self-employment in certain cantons (unlike in 25 MIPEX countries, e.g. AT, FR, DE, IT)
  • Less financial support to invest in CH vocational or university degree for labour market integration (unlike in 28)
  • Longest wait for an autonomous permit for spouses in Europe; even delayed (after 3 years' stay) in case of domestic violence or in cases of death or divorce only for the 'well-integrated' (see instead 11 MIPEX countries, e.g. IT, NO, SE)

Policy Box

The draft Foreigners and Integration Act would require adult family members who want to apply for or renew a permit to demonstrate their language knowledge or willingness to learn through courses. Legal exemptions would exist for the disabled, ill or 'other reasons' accepted by authorities. Those whose integration is deemed 'unfavourable' may be asked to sign an integration contract to get their permit accepted or renewed. For non-EU residents, policies 'encourage and demand' their progress on integration in a few countries (e.g. AU/CA/NZ, BE, DE, IT, Nordics, FR pre-entry), while many others are demanding without encouraging (e.g. AT, recently NL & UK). Only 9 other MIPEX countries impose language/integration requirements for resident families, while only 8 impose them on families abroad. These requirements are unlikely to be fully successful without enough free courses for all (e.g. abroad in CA, FR, KR), legal exemptions for vulnerable groups (e.g. AT, DE, Nordics), especially for families unable to access them abroad (e.g. see flexibility in FR, KR, NZ). 

Real beneficiaries

Are families reuniting?

16,351 family members joined their non-EU sponsor in CH in 2013, with similar numbers recorded in 2012. Newcomer families are very diverse, coming from all over the globe. Even the largest group only constitute around ≈1,000-2,000 of reuniting family members (KS, US, IN, RS, TU, MK) Most (12,240) are their spouses/partners. The number of children in reuniting families is relatively small (4,074) given the comparatively large size of CH's non-EU population. Hardly any other family members or elderly are able to reunite in CH (similar problem in AT).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?

  • Most long-settled in CH and many newcomers are work migrants, meaning few may currently need family reunion 
  • 50% from developed countries and thus potentially less likely to reunite
  • 23% of non-EU citizens do not speak one of the national languages

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants reunite with family?

Non-EU family reunion is relatively rare in Europe. Non-EU families are slightly less likely to reunite in CH than in other Western European countries. Families reuniting with non-EU sponsors represented only 2.4 out of every 100 non-EU residents in CH. This rate rises to 3.1 out of 100 on average in Western Europe (see Benelux, Nordics, IT). With very few exceptions, non-EU families are less likely to reunite in countries with restrictive family reunion policies, such as AT, FR, DE and CH. Policies can quickly function as obstacles to the right to family reunion, with disproportionate effects on the most vulnerable groups. For example, family reunion rates are more inequitable in CH than in many other European countries, with disproportionately lower rates for nationals from refugee-producing countries and higher for IN, IS, JP, US.

Education

Key Findings

Large number of immigrant pupils may not get the support they need in CH schools, which are slow to improve their support and open up to diversity

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

Education is a major area for integration policy in CH, as canton's school systems must adapt to any specific learning needs of the country's relatively large number of immigrant pupils. 17.5% of all 15-year-old pupils are 1st or 2nd generation (EU and non-EU born), which is relatively high for Northwest Europe (6-10% on average) but lower than in LU (29%), a similar country to CH with many pupils  from neighouring countries speaking the same language. With half of these pupils speaking the school's language at home with their parents, CH faces immigrant language needs in school that are similar to the average developed country and other multilingual countries (e.g. BE, CA, ES).

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

CH is one of the few MIPEX countries raising the standards for targeted education policies (+4 since 2010). Together, CH cantons are slowly starting to adapt schools to the needs and benefits of a diverse classroom (AT and DE), undertaking more effort than FR or IT. Overall, migrant pupils face similar challenges to access schools as in many European countries, but weaker targeted support and better opportunities to learn languages and cultures of origin (see box).

Dimension 1: Access

  • Immigrant pupils face similar opportunities and obstacles to access different schools in CH as in most countries
  • Access to compulsory and pre-primary education for all immigrant pupils, regardless of parents' legal status
  • Obligatory pre-primary for all from age 4, often including targeted family outreach and support to learn the local and family's languages (see also AT, DE, Nordics) 
  • Since 2013 agreement, right to access vocational training/apprenticeships also for undocumented pupils (with 5 years' compulsory education, language mastery, no criminal record), but not yet in all cases for university routes (for full access, see e.g. FR, NL, ES) 
  • Measures and campaigns to remedy drop-out and increase apprenticeship places for all pupils, including immigrant pupils (see also AT, DK, DE), but few diversity actions at university

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • Immigrant pupils benefit from greater targeted support, but still uneven and weaker than on average in Western Europe (similar to AT, DE) 
  • Newcomer pupils in many cantons should benefit from extra information, orientation and courses in the school's language, based on 1991 federal recommendations and 2007 HarmoS agreement driven by inter-cantonal mobility and PISA results
  • Immigrant pupils may also participate in public-funded homework support on an ad hoc basis
  • Since 2010, cantons get financial support for projects increasing immigrant pupils' national and mother tongue language skills (e.g. teacher materials, training and extra courses)
  • Few federal or cantonal quality standards guarantee that teachers are trained and teaching is high-quality and effective for migrants' specific learning needs (for other federal/decentralised countries, see Nordics, US)

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • Immigrant pupils may be slightly more likely in CH than in other countries to learn about their languages and cultures at school, but these positive initiatives rarely involve immigrant parents or non-immigrant pupils in the same or other schools
  • Dating back to the 1970s, language and culture of origin courses (LCOs) only for some cantons/pupils, based on bilateral agreements or community initiatives (similar courses in the majority of countries, models in AT, AU/CA, NO/SE)
  • Immigrant parents mostly benefit from outreach from their child's school at pre-primary level, enrollment and the transition from compulsory to usually vocational training (see also Intercultural Libraries in CH, for more diversity and outreach initiatives, see Northern Europe, AU/CA/NZ)

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • Depending on the canton, children receive slightly unfavourable intercultural education compared to most Western European countries (see instead Benelux, NO/SE, UK)
  • Cantons and municipalities have the discretion to decide whether and how to teach immigrant and non-immigrant pupils to learn together in the curriculum and school day 
  • Ad hoc funding aims to promote diversity at school and in society

Policy Box

Cantonal education policies vary significantly in terms of migrant education and civic education. In Zurich, the Quality in Multi-Ethnic Schools (QUIMS) programme has made multi-ethnic schools more attractive for pupils with CH middle class parents and for their non-CH peers by closing the performance gaps and improving community satisfaction with the school environment. Starting in 1996 as an experimental pilot, QUIMS is now required by law since 2006 in all public schools with 40% or more students from immigrant backgrounds (currently numbering 111 schools). These schools are assisted in the development of language support for all pupils lacking basic proficiency, innovative attainment support, such as cooperative learning and the involvement of parents and mentors, and integration support to build a shared culture of respect.  

Real beneficiaries

Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?

46% of foreign-born 15-year-old with low-literacy scores are receiving extra out-of-school literacy courses in CH, according to 2012 PISA data. This level of enrollment is similar to levels in BE, FR, LU but below average for MIPEX countries (53%) or DE (56%) and far below the levels (>60%) in CA/US, DK/FI/SE and PT. Only around 1/3 of CH and 2nd generation low-literacy pupils were enrolled in these courses, compared to around 40% on average for MIPEX countries. Low-literacy immigrant pupils are more likely to benefit from extra out-of-school literacy courses in countries where these courses are generally available for all pupils and where their targeted education policies are strong for migrant pupils.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?

  • Relatively average student-teacher ratios and % of GDP spent on education compared to other developed countries
  • Half of 1st/2nd generation speak official language at home
  • Around 20% of foreign-born pupils arrive after age 12

Outcome indicators

How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?

Very few CH 15-year-olds are low-achievers on PISA math tests, even among pupils with low-educated mothers (14% in 2012, lowest among MIPEX countries). In comparison, CH has one of the widest gap between CH and 1st generation pupils with low-educated mothers (1/3 of whom are math low-achievers). Although this gap decreases by 1/3 from the 1st generation to the 2nd (1/4 are math low-achievers), this smaller gap is still one of the largest internationally, alongside AT/DE/NL and DK/FI/NO. The links between these outcomes and general/targeted education policies are not yet clear. CH's targeted education policies may be too new, too weak, too late or too general for most migrant pupils to benefit from them all across the country and education system. A wide range of schools may need more information, resources and requirements to implement these policies, in addition to general education reform benefiting disadvantaged pupils.

Health

Key Findings

Inspired by the common right and duty to basic insurance for all, the federal level and certain cantons created accessible and rather responsive services for all categories of migrants: World-leading "Migration and Health" programme

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

As a wealthy country with a large immigrant population and flexible health system, CH has turned migrant health into a major area of strength in its approach to integration. This flexibility has allowed for inclusive insurance entitlements and for several cantons with many migrants, such as Bern and Vaud, to create accessible and rather responsive services. These achievements are largely thanks to the leadership from public health actors and healthcare services over more than a decade. Overall, CH's targeted policies at federal level and in several cantons are found to be favourable for addressing the specific health needs of migrant patients, ranking 2nd out of the 38 MIPEX countries. 

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Legal migrants, asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants have nearly the same right and duty as CH citizens to take out basic insurance under the country's insurance-based healthcare system (strong entitlements in also FR, NL, SE)
  • This right and duty applies to all people with 3+ months' stay and no insurance in another country
  • Undocumented migrants may be discouraged by companies' extra administrative requirements, high costs and delays
  • Asylum-seekers'  entitlements differ canton-by-canton, depending on the terms of the collective insurance coverage negotiated by the canton and insurance company

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Healthcare services are rather accessible for migrant patients in several CH cantons (see also AT, BE, FR, IT, NZ, and several Nordic countries)
  • Providers are regularly informed of migrant patients' entitlements (www.migesplus.ch) and forbidden to report any personal data about patients, including undocumented migrants, as in most countries
  • Health centres for uninsured undocumented migrants in several cantons and sudsidies to cover their costs in 7
  • Many cantons, the Federal Health Office and CH Red Cross inform all immigrants about health entitlements and health issues through various languages and methods, both in writing and in person
  • Cultural mediators may be available on an ad hoc basis (see examples from 17 other countries)

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • Services tend to be somewhat responsive to the specific health needs of migrant patients, though adaptation is relatively weak across most countries (AT, NO, SE, CH still behind English-speaking countries)
  • Interpreters are covered not by insurance but usually by hospital budgets in at least large or university hospitals 
  • Transcultural competence is required for nurses and midwives but ad hoc for medical students, hospital staff and service design/delivery (see also NZ, NO, UK)
  • Although the health service workforce is rather diverse, no structural measures to recruit immigrant residents or involve them in services except sometimes as interpreters or intercultural mediators (see AT, AU, IE, NZ, UK)

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • Service providers are slightly ahead of national policies in addressing migrant health. A more structured approach to developing good migrant health poilicies tends to be found in tax-based health systems, rather than insurance-based ones such as in CH & AT
  • Strong evidence base for migrant health policymaking funded by National Science Foundation and Federal Health Office
  • National 'Migration and Health' Programme (see box) involved ad hoc cooperation with migrant health stakeholders, but rarely with immigrant organisations departments and leading practitioners, with no " health in all policies" approach to migrant health involving all integration actors and all related departments

Policy Box

Since 2002, the National 'Migration and Health' Programme allowed the Federal Health Office to develop migrants'  health literacy and the capacity of the public health system to adapt to migrants' specific needs. Migrants'  health needs were addressed in prevention policies. Professional community interpreters were integrated into the healthcare system. Trainings on 'transcultural competence' were promoted among health professionals. Several cantons established their own cantonal action plans on migrant health, but often with ad hoc implementation measures. Within this decentralised insurance-based system, federal action plans and recommendations are not obligatory for cantons and companies to implement.

Political Participation

Key Findings

Promoting immigrants' political participation is the sign of confident destination countries and cantons: Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Basel-Stadt, Fribourg, Geneva, Graubunden, Jura, Neuchâtel, Vaud

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

At the beginning of the 2000s, several cantons were opening voting rights, consultative bodies and funding options to promote immigrants' political participation. These efforts have stalled in recent years, even if granting voting rights is an agreed CH indicator of integration. The amount of effort is comparable to several Western European countries (e.g. IT and DE) and greater than others (AT and FR), though the leaders remain Northern European countries, NZ and PT.

Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • Cantonal and/or municipal voting rights granted Neuchâtel in 1849, Jura in 1978, Vaud in 2003, Fribourg in 2004, Geneva in 2005
  • Appenzell Ausserrhoden (1995), Graubunden (2003) and Basel-Stadt (2005) give municipalities the right to decide on municipal voting rights

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • Non-EU citizens enjoy basic political liberties in all cantons, as in 26 countries

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • Immigrants are consulted by local and national government, as well as nearly all cantons, mostly through permanent structural bodies
  • Participants may find them only halfway favourable for meaningful participation, since participants are not freely elected or representing the different nationalities, generations, genders, etc. (see BE, FI, DE, LU, IT)

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • Ad hoc information on political rights, mostly around elections
  • Immigrant associations must fulfil several conditions for State funding on integration at the various levels (e.g. national Forum for the Integration of Immigrant Women and Men FIMM)

Real beneficiaries

How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?

The level of political participation among non-EU immigrants in CH is likely influenced not only by its limited and uneven political participation policies, but also by its restrictive nationality policies, as only 36% of the non-EU-born had become CH citizens by 2011/2.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?

  • Mostly long-settled in CH
  • Non-EU labour migrants and students may be less likely to settle permanently 
  • Comparatively high employment levels for non-EU citizens, but 23% lacking knowledge of one of the national languages 
  • Main option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation given CH's restrictive naturalisation policies

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants participating in political life?

Non-EU immigrants seem little encouraged to participate in CH public life. Long-settled non-EU-born adults are a third less likely to participate politically in CH which is one of the widest gaps in Europe (similar to AT, EE, DE, SI). Data collected over the 2000s suggests that only 1/3 of long-settled non-EU residents (10+ years' stay) take part in a political party, association, petition, demonstration or contacting a politician, compared to 1/2 of all CH-born. Even university-educated non-EU immigrants are 1/4 less likely to participate politically than high-educated CH-born. The gap between low-educated immigrants and non-immigrants in CH is also one of the widest in Europe. 

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

One of longest and most demanding paths to long-term residence delays equal opportunities for newcomers and keeps most non-EU citizens in CH relatively insecure in their status

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become long-term residents?

According to 2011/2 estimates, most non-EU citizens in CH (78%) would normally be considered eligible for long-term residence in other European countries, since they have lived in CH for 5+ years (the period required in nearly all European countries). This share of long-settled residents is comparable to the situation in AT, FR, IT and slightly higher than on average in Europe. The numbers are slightly higher for non-EU men (82%) than for women (74%), who tend to arrive later as family migrants.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Long-term residence only goes halfway to guarantee a secure residence and equal rights to long-settled immigrants, as most non-EU citizens must wait longer and pass more conditions than in most countries. Only after 10 or possibly 5 years do long-term residents acquire the basic equal rights that temporary residents are already able to use in other countries to invest early in their long-term integration. Their halfway secure status will become even more secure, following the results of a 2010 referendum. Long-term residence in CH emerges as one of the weakest tools for integration in Western Europe, ranking 31st out of 38 compared to all countries' policies and, in Western Europe, alongside only FR, IE, and, recently, UK.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Non-EU citizens face the longest wait to become long-term residents (Permit C) of any MIPEX country 
  • 5 years' stay, the standard in nearly all countries, only applies to EU/EEA, CA, US citizens, refugees and spouses of CH citizens as well as other 'well-integrated' non-EU citizens (known as 'anticipated long-term residence')
  • 10 years required for most other non-EU citizens in CH (e.g. B-permit holders and students)
  • The only other country with such long delay is TU (8 years)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Non-EU immigrants have to fulfill some of the most demanding conditions to become long-term residents, depending on the procedure and the canton
  • The requirements can be more restrictive than in 33 MIPEX countries (only CY, GR, MT, UK are more restrictive)
  • Non-EU citizens must prove their basic economic resources, language skills, respect of public order and 'degree of integration' through a potentially costly procedure
  • The future Foreigners and Integration Act may harmonise but also extend the integration requirements

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Long-term residence only provides non-EU citizens with a halfway secure status, perhaps soon one of the weakest internationally after the Foreign Citizens' Expulsion Referendum (see box)
  • Long-term residence can be rejected or withdrawn on wide grounds, including 6 months outside CH, unemployment or dependence on social assistance (unlike in most Western European countries)
  • Currently, no group of long-term residents is fully protected against expulsion, even those living there for years or since childhood (unlike BE, FR, IT, NL)
  • Instead, a long-term resident's time in CH and personal circumstances will be considered in expulsion cases with judicial oversight, as is required in most countries

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • As in 28 other countries, long-term residents in CH obtain nearly equal social and economic rights as CH citizens
  • Given the many restrictions on temporary residents in CH, these new rights coming with long-term residents are not only the equal right to work and self-employment in most sectors, but also the basic right to free move and reside in other CH cantons and equal rights to use social assistance, buy property, buy arms and vote in certain cantons

Policy Box

The referendum on the expulsion of foreign criminals was passed by 52.9% of voters on 28 November 2010. This amendment to the CH Constitution would require that all foreign citizens be deported to their countries of origin upon conviction for certain crimnal offenses (murder, rape, serious sexual offenses, robbery or burglary, human or drug trafficking, abuse of social assistance or benefits). All those convicted would be deported, regardless of their residency status, duration or degree of integration. The Federal Council put forward two options to implement the consultation. The 1st option includes exemptions so that CH does not violate its international conventions (ECHR, UN). The 2nd option would deport without exemptions.

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are long-term residents?

In 2013, CH was home to 401,438 national long-term residents (C Permit), a comparative large number for its size in Europe. Many are long-settled and even born in CH (similar in AT, EE, GR, LV). 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?

  • Mostly long-settled in CH
  • Non-EU students lower likelihood to settle permanently and non-EU migrant workers with greater difficulty 
  • Comparatively high employment levels for non-EU citizens, but 23% lacking knowledge of one of the national languages 
  • Main option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation given CH's restrictive naturalisation policies

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become long-term residents?

An estimated 59% of non-EU citizens were long-term residents in CH by 2013. A large number of the long-term residents in CH likely acquired their status long ago or through birth in CH. Most nationalities are represented among the permanent resident population. The share of long-term residents in AT is similarto AT, FR, and DE. The number of long-term residents strongly reflects countries' path to permanent residence. A sizeable number of non-EU citizens with 5+ years' residence have yet to become long-term residents. Moreover, longstanding destinations that restrict residence and naturalisation, such as AT & CH, eventually end up with high numbers of long-term resident foreigners, including their children born in the country.

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

Entitlement to citizenship for immigrants and descendants could significantly increase naturalisation rates and boost other integration outcomes

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become a citizen?

An estimated 61% of non-EU citizens in CH are potentially eligible for naturalisation, according to 201,1/2 international data. This is a relatively high level compared to other European countries. Half of all non-EU citizens are first generation living there 10+ years, while around 10% were born in the country, but not yet CH citizens. More refined national data from 2013 puts the total number of potential CH citizens (B or C-permit holders meeting the federal conditions) at 675,925 foreign-born and 200,258 CH-born.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

CH's nationality policies, the most restrictive in Western Europe after AT, remain slightly unfavourable for recognising and encouraging rapid integration. The 2014 Revision of the Citizenship Act did not succeed to improve the situation (see box). Federal approval of naturalisations should indeed be simpler and quicker, but immigrants still face one of the longest waits as well as highly demanding and discretionary conditions, depending on their canton. Immigrants, their children and even their grandchildren face more lengthy, complicated and costly paths to citizenship in CH than in any of its neighbours (except AT) or other major destination countries, as national reforms improve eligibility for nationality and the rule-of-law (e.g. BE, DK, DE, LU, PL, PT).

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Even after the 2014 Law, immigrants in CH still face the longest wait in Europe (10 years), comparable to only AT, CZ, LT and SK (permanent residence not required in IT, ES, SI). On average, other countries require permanent residence and just 5-7 years' legal stay
  • CH and AT are the only Western European countries without a right to citizenship for children or grandchildren born or educated in the country. More and more countries (now 18, most recently CZ and DK) are mixing traditional jus sanguinis with jus soli, with goals to include and recognise future generations (see also DE, SE, FI, PT, LU)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • CH is the only major destination country without clear and objective national standards for citizenship (compare to AT, BE, CA, DE, US)
  • 2014 Law simplifies the federal-level approval process. The right (Article 13) and time limit (Article 14) for federal approval means that applicants should not be delayed or rejected for vague reasons at federal level. But the actual conditions, assessment and final approval are still up to each canton
  • Article 11 incorporates the definition of integration from the Foreigners' Law, but cantonal or municipal authorities can still assess it as they wish based on the non-exhaustive federal list. They must simply "take into account in an appropriate manner" the disability, illness or personal reasons affecting a person's language learning abilities

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Becoming a CH citizen can be time-consuming (no common time limit for all cantons) and the most expensive of all MIPEX countries, averaging an estimated 1,500 euros
  • Applicants are still somewhat uncertain of the outcome, even if they meet the conditions (see most Northern European countries, e.g. BE, DE, NL)
  • Naturalisation can still be a political rather than administrative decision, with cantonal/municipal authorities having many grounds for rejection
  • Positively, the procedure involves few for withdrawal, good statelessness protection and procedural guarantees

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

  • Applicants face one less barrier to naturalisation since 1992: no need to renounce their foreign citizenship (similar trend in 24 other MIPEX countries)

Policy Box

Proposed in 2011 but only passed in 2014, the revised Citizenship Act made few changes, due to deep divisions between the political parties.  Under the new law, immigrants can apply two years earlier (10 instead of 12 years, though 8 was proposed). Plus, applicants must have lived 2-5 of these years in their canton. What's more, ordinary residents (Permit B) can no longer apply directly. After these 10 years, most non-EU residents (except CA and US) must first become permanent residents (Permit C), as a 'guarantor of integration'. To then calculate the 10 years for naturalisation, the time spent in CH is counted as double for minors, as before (now ages 8-18), but now only half for temporary stay (Permit F, e.g. humanitarian migrants).

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

In 2012, 19,601 non-EU citizens became CH citizens. The total number of naturalisations peaked at 47,000 in 2006 and largely decreased every year since then, down to 33,500 total in 2012. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • Most long-settled and growing 2nd and 3rd generation without CH citizenship
  • Half from less developed countries thus likely to naturalise
  • Half are humanitarian or family migrants likely to stay
  • 2/3 from countries allowing dual nationality
  • 23% of non-EU citizens do not speak one of the national languages

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

Only 36% of non-EU-born adults have become citizens in CH by 2012, a relatively low level for Western Europe. Following the 2014 law, the naturalisation rate is expected to drop another 15% once Permit B and F holders can no longer apply. The total naturalisation rate has already been decreasing over time from 6.8 in 2009 to 5.0 in 2012 and now below average for Western Europe (6.7). The rate for non-EU citizens is even lower (2.9 in 2012), similar to ES and FR and above AT and DE, but far below average for Western Europe (5.2). The few naturalising immigrants are generally representative of non-EU residents in CH, except for the higher rates for minors and lower-than-average rates for the elderly over 65 and nationals from certain refugee-producing countries. Citizenship policies are the strongest factor determining the low naturalisation outcomes for immigrant men and women, particularly from developing countries. Naturalisation also seems to lead to better employment outcomes and higher levels of political participation for certain naturalising immigrants.

Anti-discrimination

Key Findings

One of the very few countries without a comprehensive anti-discrimination law and equality body with legal standing; a sizeable number of potential victims are poorly protected against racial, ethnic, religious and nationality discrimination

Potential Beneficiaries

Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?

According to the CH National Integration Indicators, recent years have seen 10% of CH residents (aged 14+) experiencing some form of ethnic/racial, religious or nationality discrimination. Among foreign citizens, this rate rises to 21%.  

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

The law provides less protection from racial, ethnic, religious and nationality discrimination than in nearly all other developed countries, on par with EE and only stronger than TU, JP and IS. Unlike all EU countries, CH has made no major legal progress on fighting discrimination. A comprehensive anti-discrimination law has been recommended repeatedly by the CH Federal Commission against Racism, Council of Europe and UN. The Federal Council was charged in 2012 to review the strengths and effectiveness of current federal laws. So far, the Federal Council has argued that the Foreigners Act is sufficient to guarantee non-discrimination, even if these provisions are weaker than the commonly accepted EU standards and 33 out of 38 similar countries to CH. 

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • The definitions of discrimination are only slightly weaker in CH law than on average, scoring 58/100 alongside countries such as CZ, GR, IT and NO
  • According to various laws, a wide range of actors are generally not supposed to discriminate against people based on their race, ethnicity or religion
  • No specific rules address multiple discrimination (unlike 8)
  • Non-EU citizens are not explicitly protected from discrimination based on their nationality (e.g. see case 6B_715 6 February 2014), 
  • Explicit protections against nationality discrimination exist in 22 countries (e.g. FR, DE, IT)

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • Without a comprehensive law, victims are not guaranteed that these definitions of discrimination apply in all major areas of life
  • Dedicated laws in other countries guarantee access to justice for victims in employment, vocational training, education, social protection and access to goods and services, such as housing and health (minimums required by EU in Baltics, 'horizontal' approach in 30 others, with 16 including nationality discrimination)
  • Only JP, IS and TU lack such comprehensive anti-discrimination laws

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • The mechanisms to enforce these definitions are also rather weak, ranking 33 out of 38, alongside again the Baltics, IS, JP, KR and TU
  • Various types of discrimination cases can be supported by  NGOs and lead to sanctions
  • Still, victims can only bring individual cases and only to court (unlike in 21 countries), with no sharing the burden of proof or protections against victimisation (unlike in 31)
  • Gaps also emerge for legal aid, free interpreters and the use of statistical data and situation testing in court

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • Equality policies provide rather weak information, support and leadership to victims and the public in CH as in several neighbouring countries (e.g. DE, IT, LU, stronger in AT, BE, FR)
  • Confederation, cantons and communes do inform the public and take measures to protect against discrimination in their own work (see box, required under draft Foreigners and Integration Act)
  • Equality bodies are ineffective, only giving advice, without further powers to initiate investigations or join proceedings (see strong bodies in 16 countries)

Policy Box

Policy box

1 of the 3 pillars of the Cantonal Integration Programmes 2014-2017 is the initial provision of information, advice and protection against discrimination. The goal is to raise awareness among potential victims and the public of the existing legal definitions of discrimination in CH law.

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