In the run-up to a 9 February vote on immigrants brought about by the right-wing UDC (People’s Party), Bern Wednesday 15 January issued, for public consultation until May 2014, tougher rules for foreigners.
In particular the governing Federal Council wants to ensure that the same rules apply countrywide, in this decentralized nation where cantons often apply their own rules. Bern says it is determined, as well, to end abuses by foreigners.
The new document is prefaced by a note that immigrants are largely a positive thing for Switzerland. But it calls for the country to establish a coherent national policy covering:
- The refusal of social services to individuals from European Union (EU) and AELE countries – and their families – who come to Switzerland to seek a job.
- Limiting the right to stay for EU/AELE member citizens who are on unemployment when they arrive in Switzerland
- Limiting “prestations complémentaires“, or additional services covered by cantonal social security offices to unemployed persons: the new rules would call for an automatic exchange of information between the AVS (social security) and immigration offices to ensure that foreigners receiving social service payments are not unemployed
- Residence permits for people who have been in Switzerland for five years who have received unemployment benefits for 12 months.