No lifting of protection status S
Bern, 01.11.2023 - The situation in Ukraine is not expected to change in the foreseeable future. The Federal Council therefore decided at its meeting on 1 November not to lift the protection status S for Ukrainian refugees before 4 March 2025. For the first time, it has also defined a target for labour market integration: By the end of 2024, 40 per cent of persons capable of employment with protection status S should be in work.
As a result of Russia's war against Ukraine, the Federal Council decided to grant Ukrainian refugees protection status S from 12 March 2022. This provides temporary protection to those in need as long as they are exposed to a serious general danger. As of the end of October 2023, around 66,000 Ukrainians have protection status S in Switzerland.
Protection status S is valid until it is lifted by the Federal Council. A condition of its lifting is lasting stability in Ukraine so that the population is no longer exposed to a serious general danger. The latest developments show that this is not the case at present as acts of war continue across the country. The situation is not expected to change in the foreseeable future.
Clarity for those concerned
The Federal Council has therefore decided not to lift protection status S until 4 March 2025 unless the situation changes fundamentally before then. This decision provides clarity not only for the Ukrainian refugees, but also for the cantons, the communes and employers. In view of Switzerland's Schengen membership, the Federal Council considers it vital to coordinate closely with the EU, which decided on 19 October to extend temporary protection to Ukrainian refugees until 4 March 2025.
Measures on labour market integration to be extended
The Federal Council sees a further need for action in the area of labour market integration. The specific support measures for people with protection status S (Programme S), which were first adopted on 13 April 2022 and extended on 9 November 2022, will also be extended until 4 March 2025. The Confederation contributes CHF 3,000 per person per year to these measures, in particular for language courses, which is paid to the cantons in stages.
At the same time, efforts are being stepped up to integrate as many Ukrainian refugees as possible into the labour market. The Federal Council aims to increase the employment rate from the current level of around 20 per cent to 40 per cent by the end of 2024. In order to achieve this goal, the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), together with the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), the cantons and the social partners, will develop and implement further specific measures. In future, the cantons will be subject to more binding requirements regarding the use of federal funding. This includes providing provide language support measures for all Ukrainians seeking protection and clarifying each person's potential and need for support.
Promoting labour market integration not only serves to reduce social welfare costs. Through integration measures, education and gainful employment, Ukrainian refugees can and should also be socially integrated and maintain and develop their skills with a view to returning home in the future.
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