Swiss ploy to ban Italian workers ‘not racist’

A Swiss town's campaign to hire only local residents has been interpreted as anti-Italian, but the local mayor has said the decision is anything but racist.

Under the new measure, shoppers in Claro, in the canton of Ticino, are now confronted with a new pro-Swiss slogan: “We employ staff [who are] residents” logo.

The mark of merit is also accompanied by business owners reporting the percentage of Swiss staff they hire, Corriere della Sera reported on Tuesday.

The new campaign has been interpreted as being anti-Italian, owing to the high number of people who cross the border from Italy to work in Switzerland.

“The initiative will inevitably appear unpleasant, particularly as seen by Italians,” the town’s mayor, Roberto Keller, was quoted as saying. “But we have adopted a transparent point of view. Racism doesn’t come into it.”

Keller was prompted to roll out the campaign due to growing unemployment and following discussions with his constituents.

“A lot of people have for some time repeated: they would be prepared to pay a few francs more for goods or services if they at least knew that they would go to enriching the Ticino economy and not Italy’s,” he said.

But according to the new mayor, the new measure by no means excludes Italians: “The appeal is to hire residents, which doesn’t necessarily mean Swiss people but also foreigners that live permanently in Ticino [the Swiss canton]. It’s above all a question of balance.”

Despite a long history of people from Switzerland’s neighbouring countries crossing the border for work, the phenomenon has recently led to resentment over foreign employees.

There has also been an increase in the number of Italians emigrating to Switzerland; 10,000 made the move in 2013 while just 3,000 returned the same year, according to statistics agency Istat.

The Swiss narrowly voted in favour of capping immigration from the EU in February last year, with the strongest support for the measure coming from Ticino voters.

The cap is now facing two years of negotiations between Bern and Brussels.

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Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Switzerland has made reciprocal agreements regarding working holiday visas with several countries. Here's what you need to know.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Over the past few decades, countries around the globe have rolled out ‘working holiday visa’ agreements.

These visa schemes, largely targeted at young people, allow people to work and live in a particular country, usually for a set period of time and pursuant to certain conditions.

In recent years, Switzerland has expanded its own form of a ‘working holiday visa’, although there are some important differences to be aware of.

Unlike some of the better known schemes like those in place in Australia, applicants are discouraged from moving around and are generally required to stay with the one employer for the duration.

The goal of the visa scheme is to allow applicants to “expand their occupational and linguistic skills in Switzerland”.

The visa scheme runs for 18 months and cannot be extended.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

The agreements are made between countries, meaning your fate will depend on whether your government has at some point struck a deal with Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between permanent residence and Swiss citizenship?

If you are from the European Union or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), then you will be able to live and work in Switzerland as is – and will not need to go through this process.

If you come from outside the EU, you will only be able to apply for this visa if you are a citizen of the following countries:

Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States.

What does ‘reciprocal’ mean in this context? 

Where these agreements have been struck, they have entitled citizens of both countries to certain rights and permissions in the other country. 

However, while these arrangements might be reciprocal, they are not identical. 

For instance, while citizens of Australia can enter Switzerland and work, the rules for Swiss citizens in Australia are significantly different. 

Therefore, if considering each program, be sure to study all of the relevant details as these will change from country to country and from agreement to agreement. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Switzerland