Migrants refuse social assistance to keep residency rights

Some foreigners reject welfare benefits to keep their Swiss residency permits. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Some migrants are being forced onto poverty by Swiss laws that can remove residency rights if they claim welfare payments, a conference has heard.

This content was published on April 6, 2023

The Federal Migration Office highlighted the problem during its annual conference in Bern on Thursday.

+ Migrants fear losing Swiss residency rights

Since 2019, the authorities have been empowered to revoke residency permits if a foreigner relies too heavily on welfare benefits.

As a consequence, many people are afraid to claim financial help. For example, some pensioners refuse top-up payments for this reason, say elderly rights groups.

Speaking at the Bern conference, Swiss Justice Minister Elisabeth Baume-Schneider said welfare payments should be a right for Swiss residents.

Poverty should not be considered a crime, she added.

Parliament is currently debating whether to revoke the welfare condition for residency, but the two chambers have failed to agree on this motion.

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