Information for employers

How do you hire a refugee?

Since 2019, the law facilitates and promotes access to the labour market for refugees - an opportunity for all!

To hire a refugee, all you need is a few clicks: it's simple, fast and free.

Click here, fill in the form and then click on the "Submit" button at the end of the form. Your new employee with an F or B permit (refugee) can start work immediately. To hire a person with an N permit, please refer to to our FAQ.

Need some help? There are resources available to you!

The Swiss Integration Agenda (AIS) was introduced by the Confederation on 1 May 2019. All persons who have received the following permits are part of the AIS:

  • Recognized refugees - B Permit
  • Temporarily admitted refugees - F Permit
  • Persons admitted on a provisional basis - F Permit

The Office for the Integration of Foreigners (BIE) is responsible for piloting the AIS in the canton of Geneva.

Through the AIS, people in the field of asylum have the opportunity to acquire various certified skills and qualifications that are recognised on the labour market.

Indeed, shortly after their arrival in Switzerland, all persons benefiting from AIS will initially undergo an initial assessment of their situation at the Geneva Assessment Centre (CEBIG), in order to determine their level of language and education. Then, when these persons have reached the A2 language level in French, they will undergo a skills and professional positioning assessment (CEBIG) in order to determine their professional project in depth as well as the means to achieve it.

Depending on their career path and their professional project, people are guided by a professional network through the existing ordinary structures of the Canton of Geneva until they enter training, the job market or other social integration measures.

This interdisciplinary network of professionals-they are one of the key resources that you as employers can rely on.

Employer Testimonials

Hiring a refugee is...

Refugees (holders of an F or B refugee permit) can easily be hired by companies anywhere in Switzerland and in all sectors of activity.

For companies, the advantages are multiple:

  • Employees with a high level of motivation, loyalty and availability. Their approach is voluntary.
  • A simplified procedure via an online announcement: F/B permit holders can work immediately.
  • AIS (Swiss Integration Agenda)
    • Ensures that refugees are well prepared to integrate into the local labour force.
    • Follows up on the successful integration of refugees and takes charge of any additional employment training.
  • Skills sought according to profiles. Minimum language skills ensured thanks to AIS.
  • Source of innovation
    • Experience and skills acquired in another cultural environment
    • Different points of view and approaches
    • Diversification within teams
  • The presence of a refugee improves cohesion and team spirit within the company.
  • CSR/humanitarian hiring: by hiring a refugee, the company facilitates his or her integration, gives him or her a new start and enables him or her to rebuild his or her life in a favourable environment.
  • Refugees holding a B or F permit reside permanently on Swiss territory and can be employed on a long-term basis.
  • A single contact for companies: the BIE - Office for the Integration of Foreigners.

By working in a local company, refugees have the opportunity to create a local network and start writing their own history in Switzerland.

  • Integration
    • The AIS (Swiss Integration Agenda) supports the integration of refugees, prepares them for working life in Switzerland and accompanies them in this process.
    • Being part of a company and a team helps to break the vicious cycle of isolation, to develop a sense of belonging and to integrate into local society and culture.
    • In addition to AIS benefits, the employment experience greatly facilitates learning the local language and culture.
  • Feeling useful - Working in your host country promotes resilience, builds self-confidence and has a beneficial effect on well-being.
  • Independence - A job makes it possible for the refugee to be financially independent, which undeniably improves his or her personal situation.
  • Prospects - Having a job helps prepare for the future by gaining a foothold in the local work culture.
  • Reducing the costs of public assistance by giving refugees the opportunity to write their own history and become financially independent
  • Integration of refugees into the world of work ensuring better social cohesion
  • Sense of acceptance as a factor of respect for the host community
  • General respect for and ability to integrate into society on the rise

Convinced?

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Hire a refugee now!

Once the form is completed, your new hire can start working immediately!

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You want to open a position for a refugee but haven't found the right person yet?

You can contact the Office for the Integration of Foreigners (BIE), which will help you find the right person.

Not convinced yet? You may think that ...

  • Holders of permit B (recognised refugees) are persons who have been granted asylum in Switzerland. They will therefore reside here permanently.

86% of holders of Permit F (provisionally admitted refugees) will be issued a long-term residence permit and will remain on Swiss territory.

Holders of permits B and F have unrestricted access to the labour market and can therefore engage in salaried and self-employed gainful employment anywhere in Switzerland and in all sectors of activity.

  • Refugees holding an F or B permit reside in the canton on the same basis as the rest of the population and are therefore already included in the unemployment statistics.
  • In any case, the number of refugees concerned is very small. We are talking about 3600 refugees of working age in the canton of Geneva, 673 of whom are already working.
  • This practice in no way makes it easier for asylum seekers to enter Swiss territory.
  • In fact, there is a 6.5% decrease in asylum applications filed in 2019, despite the introduction of the simplified procedure on 1 January of that year.

As soon as they arrive in Switzerland, refugees are accompanied by the AIS, the Swiss Integration Agenda. Targeted integration measures are implemented, such as language training, education and professional reintegration. Refugees seeking employment in Switzerland therefore have a sufficient understanding of French to integrate into the local workforce. Once a refugee has found a job, the AIS continues to follow up and further training in employment can be provided if necessary.

Of course, each individual case is different. Being part of a team and having a social environment outside one's home community is the best way to learn or improve one's level of French. Moreover, the mastery of their mother tongue can be a talent sought after within the company.

What is certain is that each refugee brings experience from another cultural context. As a factor of novelty, this approach can be beneficial to the company.

  • The approach of the refugees is purely voluntary. Finding a job is their top priority. It is only with a job and a fixed salary that a refugee will be able to find housing, gain independence and rebuild their lives.
  • Unemployed refugees often find themselves in this situation because the labour market is not ready for them.
  • On average, refugees have to apply twice as many times as others to find a job.
  • As soon as they arrive in Switzerland, refugees are accompanied by the AIS, the Swiss Integration Agenda. Targeted integration measures are implemented, such as language training, education and professional reintegration. Refugees seeking work in Switzerland are therefore prepared to integrate into the local workforce.
  • Most refugees have completed their compulsory education (80.9%). Moreover, 11.8 per cent of them have secondary education and 7.3 per cent have tertiary education.
  • Each individual case is different. What is certain is that each refugee brings experience gained in another cultural context that can be useful in Switzerland. As a factor of novelty, this approach can only be beneficial to the company.
  • The approach is voluntary. A refugee looking for work is a person who wants to work, so it is a sign of willingness to integrate. Moreover, refugees are accompanied by the AIS in their efforts from the moment they arrive in Switzerland.
  • Being a member of a team and having a social environment outside one's home community is the best way for a refugee to feel integrated, respected and useful in his or her host community.

The Federal Council, the Confederation and the Cantons are making every effort to ensure that refugees are integrated into the local workforce as quickly as possible. In fact, since 1 January 2019, all you have to do to hire a refugee is to make an online advertisement!

The members of the employers' association, who have worked closely with the federal government and the Swiss Integration Agenda in this process, have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to ensuring the best possible integration of refugees.

Refugees seeking to join the local labour force have often been resident in Switzerland for several years. Many of them have in fact attended French language courses and sometimes even completed further training or studies in Switzerland. They will remain in Switzerland on a long-term basis and are ready to join the local workforce.

Types of permits

Refugees are persons who, in their State of origin or State from which they come, are exposed to serious harm or have a well-founded fear of serious harm on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. This definition is based on the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva Convention). Serious harm includes, in particular, the endangerment of life, physical integrity or liberty, as well as measures that cause unbearable mental pressure. Consideration must also be given to reasons for flight that are specific to women. The Geneva Convention further provides that no person may be returned to a State where he or she is likely to be exposed to such dangers.

Legal basis :

The status of recognized refugees derives from the Geneva Convention. It is governed at the national level by Articles 58 to 62 of the Asylum Act (LAsi). You can find the corresponding law at the following address:

www.admin.ch/ch/f/rs/c142_31.html

Booklets for foreigners :

Recognised refugees are entitled to a residence permit in the canton in which they are legally resident (type B permit for foreign nationals). This permit is issued for one year but is, as a rule, renewed as long as the grounds for recognition of refugee status remain. The authorities may issue a settlement permit without a time limit (C permit) to refugees who have been in Switzerland for ten years, if the integration criteria are met and there are no grounds for revocation. If the person is well integrated and has a good understanding of the national language spoken in the place of residence, an application for a settlement permit may be submitted after five years.

Provisionally admitted refugees are persons who qualify as refugees, but who have not been granted asylum due to grounds for exclusion from asylum. This is the case when a person becomes a refugee solely by reason of his departure from his State of origin or provenance, or by reason of his subsequent conduct. Refugees with grounds for exclusion from asylum are admitted provisionally.

Legal basis :

The status of provisionally admitted refugee is derived from the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Provisional admission is regulated in the Federal Law on Foreigners and Integration (LEI), Articles 83 to 88a LEI. You will find the corresponding law at the following address:

www.admin.ch/ch/f/rs/c142_20.html

Booklets for foreigners :

Refugees who are provisionally admitted as refugees are issued with a type F Alien's Booklet. This permit is issued for a maximum of one year and can be renewed from year to year by the canton of residence. After five years from their arrival in Switzerland, provisionally admitted refugees may apply for a type B residence permit. In making their decision, the authorities take into account the degree of integration of the person and his or her family situation. They also check whether a return to the country of origin or provenance can reasonably be required.

Persons whose asylum application has been rejected but who cannot be removed from Switzerland for the following reasons are provisionally admitted: the enforcement of their removal is not possible (e.g. because it is not possible to obtain travel documents for that person), is not lawful (because enforcement would be contrary to the provisions of public international law) or is not reasonably enforceable (e.g. because of war or a situation of generalised violence in their State of origin).

Legal basis :

The status of provisionally admitted persons is governed by the Federal Law on Foreigners and Integration (LEI), Articles 83 to 88a LEI. You can find the corresponding law at the following address:

www.admin.ch/ch/f/rs/c142_20.html

Booklets for foreigners :

Persons admitted provisionally are issued with a type F alien's permit. This permit is issued for a maximum of one year and can be renewed from year to year by the canton of residence. After five years from their arrival in Switzerland, provisionally admitted persons may apply for a type B residence permit. In making their decision, the authorities take into account the person's degree of integration and family situation. They also check whether a return to the country of origin or provenance can reasonably be expected.

Work and financial independence are important factors for integration into society. Refugees can work throughout Switzerland. Thus, under certain conditions, a weekly stay outside the canton of residence is also possible. The employer must inform the competent cantonal authority of the type of activity before taking up employment with the help of a form, which can be found at here.

Holders of an N permit are persons who have lodged an asylum application in Switzerland and are the subject of an asylum procedure. During this period, they have a right of residence in Switzerland and may be authorised, after three months of residence, to take up paid employment, provided they are resident in the canton of Geneva. The usual conditions of remuneration and work (CCT, CTT) must be respected.

Apply for a permit to engage in gainful employment via Form Ntogether with the employment contract to the following address:

  • Office cantonal de la population et des migrations Service protection, asile et retour (SPAR) Route de Chancy 90 Case postale 2652 1211 Genève 2

When the application is submitted to the OCPM, a permit to start work immediately is issued, provided that the employer complies with the working conditions of the sector (CCT, CTT, customs).

The application for a work permit must be submitted before the start of gainful employment. It is submitted to the Foreign Labour Service of the Cantonal Office of Inspection and Labour Relations (OCIRT), which checks whether the customary pay and working conditions are respected.  

Reminder: Persons with an N permit can only be authorised to take up gainful employment after three months of residence in Switzerland.

For more information click here.

Pre-Integration Learning (PAI)

The Federal Council has launched a programme designed to improve the professional integration of recognised refugees and persons admitted to Switzerland on a temporary basis. The aim is to offer these people a year's pre-apprenticeship so that they can then enter a vocational training course or find a job.

Beneficiaries of this programme, aged between 16 and 35, are selected on the basis of their motivation, their educational level, their professional project and, where appropriate, their professional experience.

For more information click on the link

Useful links

The guide came out in 2020 to help the integration of foreign staff. The challenge of integrating people of foreign nationality is all the more important as diversity within society is increasing. This integration stems from a shared responsibility that is both individual, corporate and state. Successful integration is an opportunity for companies, for employers who can make use of their skills and for Switzerland's prosperity.

The SEM regulates the conditions of entry, residence and work in Switzerland and decides who can obtain protection against persecution in Switzerland. Together with the cantons, it organises the accommodation of asylum seekers and the return of persons who do not need protection. In addition, it coordinates integration work and is competent at the federal level to deal with naturalization cases. Finally, the SEM is committed to the efficient management of migration movements at the international level.

Integration benefits everyone - at work, at the crèche, in the city. Here you will find ideas, tips, information and advice. Get started!

The FMC has a legal mandate to deal with social, economic, cultural, political, demographic and legal issues that arise in connection with the stay of foreigners in Switzerland. The topics covered range from refugee protection to labour migration and from social cohesion to transnational issues.

Many refugees in Switzerland cannot find work for a long time, have little contact with the resident population and are dependent on social assistance. This is where the Integration Agenda comes in. It enables teenagers and young adults to learn a national language more quickly and to prepare themselves for a job, thus increasing their chances of finding their feet in the labour market, supporting themselves and integrating into local society. This helps to reduce the rising costs of social assistance and to strengthen social cohesion.
 
The main task of the Cantonal Office of Population and Migration is to maintain the register of persons living in the canton and the register of foreign nationals who are gainfully employed in the territory of the canton but do not reside there. It also manages applications for Swiss identity documents and conducts the ordinary naturalisation procedures. In addition, it processes the files of persons granted asylum in the canton of Geneva and ensures the proper enforcement of removal decisions issued by the competent authorities.

The conditions of entry and residence in Switzerland are governed by the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (FMPA) for nationals of EU/EFTA member states and by the Federal Law on Foreigners and Integration (LEI) for nationals of non-EU/EFTA countries.

The steps to be taken at the cantonal office of population and migration to obtain a work permit are therefore different depending on the person's nationality.

To promote social cohesion and the integration of foreigners on the basis of the values of the Geneva and Federal Constitutions are the objectives of the Office for the Integration of Foreigners (BIE). It co-ordinates public action in this field, develops and finances integration actions and projects with associative and institutional partners, raises awareness, informs and guides the population on all migration-related issues, ensures equal opportunity, combats discrimination and encourages joint efforts by associations, the State and municipalities. All of its activities are defined in the Cantonal Integration Programme.
 

The Fédération des Entreprises Romandes Genève, with its 28,000 member companies and more than 80 professional associations, pursues four missions:

  • support and promotion of the private economy,
  • the conduct of a continuous reflection on the evolution of society, its impact on companies and the role of an economic and employers organisation in this context,
  • the provision of services to its clients (members, companies, institutions),
  • bringing together its members and partners.

FER article on facilitating the employment of persons with an asylum background.

These recommendations come from an article published on 22 August in the magazine Entreprise Romande, published by the Fédération des Entreprises Romandes (FER).

Article of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) advising countries to strengthen cooperation and information exchange to deal more effectively and quickly with humanitarian influxes of migrants.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) article on how fortunate refugees are to have people with skills, dynamism and diversity.
 

The Cité des métiers, located on the premises of the OFPC, offers five spaces where young people and adults can find, free of charge and without appointment, the essential information and advice on guidance, training, financial aid, continuing education, integration and employment. Specialists in these matters are permanently present to answer visitors. Visitors can also document themselves on site by consulting a large number of information media, including audiovisual material.

The Federal Council has initiated a programme to improve the professional integration of recognised refugees and persons admitted to the country on a temporary basis on a sustainable basis. The aim is to offer these persons a year of pre-apprenticeship training so that they can then enter a vocational training course or a CFC course or find a job.
Beneficiaries of this programme, aged between 16 and 35, are selected on the basis of their motivation, their educational level, their professional project and, where appropriate, their professional experience.

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