Recent Changes To Immigration Policies In Switzerland

What comes to mind when you think of Switzerland, do you think of lush pristine alpine mountains, or perhaps delicious bars of Swiss chocolate? Switzerland is by far one of the most fascinating countries in Europe; it continues to attract tourists and immigrants from all over the globe. Read on, as we take a closer look at the recent changes to the Swiss immigration policies.

With the advent of increasing immigrants Swiss voters decided to approve new rules on immigration as of February 9 2014. The February vote showed how split the Swiss were on immigration, 50.3% voted to stop mass immigration and 49.7% voted against it. The changes were immediately ratified and they will be included into the Swiss Federal constitution.

What The Constitutional Changes Outline

The constitutional changes are simple and straightforward; one of the major aims is to restrict immigration by means of quantitative limits and quotas. The constitutional changes affect permanent residency, family reunification, and access to social benefits. Immigration quotas will apply to all foreign citizens including asylum seekers and cross border commuters.

Critics have argued that introducing immigration quotas opposes the rights stipulated by the Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees, and the United Nations Convention against torture and even the free movement of persons concluded with the European community and the European Free Trade Association. Given these circumstances incompatible international agreements that impugn these recent changes will have to be amended and /or renegotiated.

This leaves the Swiss government at a crossroads, stuck between the will of Swiss voters and uncompromising EU officials. Pundits agree that the Swiss government must come with a plan to negotiate a deal on these immigration policies with the European union. Otherwise this could leave the EU immigration agreements all falling apart because of Switzerland.

The new immigration policies will also affect work permits for foreign nationals, these will only be issued after comprehensive consideration has been given to Switzerland’s economic interest, employer’s needs, and the capacity of employees to integrate and support themselves.

According to the constitution the Swiss government has three years to implement these changes. If the three year period has passed and the changes have still not be implemented the Swiss Cabinet will bring the constitutional changes into force by decree on 9 February 2017.


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