Update to Swiss Federal Act on Foreign Nationals Increasing integration through incentives

Amendments to the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals are making progress in Parliament. Implementation will take place in two stages. BDO explains.
After the vote for the mass immigration initiative, the Swiss Parliament decided to refer the legislation draft of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals back to the Federal Council with the request to revise.
 
In December 2016, the Swiss Parliament approved the adaption to the regulations.
 

The implementation of the amendments takes place in two stages - January and Summer 2018. The aim of the amendments is to strengthen integration of foreign nationals by giving positive incentives enhanced with appropriate measures.

Implementation in two stages

First stage

As per January 2018, the first step of amendment became effective. It includes the abolition of the special levy on earned income for refugees and asylum-seekers. Until end of last year, aforementioned persons had to accept a deduction of 10 percent of salary in addition to a possible withholding tax.

Also included is a technical adjustment of the financing provisions for the integration flat rate aligned by the Federal Government to the cantons. 

Second stage

After the vote for the mass immigration initiative, the Swiss Parliament decided to refer the legislation draft of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals back to the Federal Council with the request to revise.
In December 2016, the Swiss Parliament approved the adaption to the regulations.
 
The implementation of the amendments takes place in two stages - January and Summer 2018. The aim of the amendments is to strengthen integration of foreign nationals by giving positive incentives enhanced with appropriate measures.
 

In a second step, the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals FNA is renamed into Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration (no official translation until now). The renaming is planned for Summer 2018. An exact date may be announced after the completion of the consultation process in March 2018.

At the same time, the Ordinance on Admission, Stay and Employment (Verordnung über Zulassung, Aufenthalt und Erwerbstätigkeit, VZAE) is amended and the Ordinance on the Integration of Foreign Nationals (Verordnung über die Integration von Ausländerinnen und Ausländern, VIntA) is completely revised. With these amendments, the criteria for the integration of foreign nationals are defined more precisely. Specifically, the local language skills of foreign nationals have to be profound and solid in order to get an existing residence permit extended.

Furthermore, measures will be strengthened for those foreign nationals who are not prepared to show the will to integrate in Switzerland. An extension of an existing residence permit may depend on a binding integration agreement and sanctions may arise if conditions of the agreement are not fulfilled. 

Additionally, the current approval procedure for the purpose of a gainful employment activity from provisionally admitted foreigners and recognized refugees will be replaced by a simple notification. This should promote the resident labor force and reduce social welfare.

Short and sweet

With the first stage - the abolition of the special levy on earned income for asylees - the Federal Council gave further incentive to integrate these individuals in the labor market. In addition, administrative obstacles for potential employers disappear.

With the amendments of the second stage to the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals the principle of "demand and promote" in the integration policy is even better implemented.

Help with tax & legal issues in Switzerland

Do you require assistance with taxation, legal or social security issues?

Hello Switzerland and our partner BDO can assist you. Please contact the Swiss Relocation Helpline on +41 58 356 17 77 or at helpline@helloswitzerland.ch.

Author: Gordana Muggler

Gordana Muggler is Head Global Mobility and HR Services at BDO Switzerland. BDO's experienced specialists are here to advise and support you and your family members on all aspects of international assignments, be it concerning the arrival to Switzerland or the deployment abroad, from the beginning of the preparations through to the return home.

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