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Sans-Papiers – You have rights!

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This publication is available in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, Albanian, Turkish and English. 2007 – Produced by the Trade Union Unia and the Information Centre for Sans-Papiers of German-speaking Switzerland.

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Do you reside and work in Switzerland without a residence permit?
If so, then you’re not alone! At least 100,000 people sharing a similar situation live in Switzerland. They are commonly referred to as «SansPapiers» or «illegal immigrants.» Most of them are workers without a regulated residence permit. In reality, they clean, work as nannies, labor on construction sites, take part in the restaurant industry or work for farmers. Even if you live in Switzerland without a residence permit, you have basic rights. Human rights are not connected to a residence status – they apply to all! This brochure contains useful information for everyday use and clarifies your basic rights. Additional assistance and information can be gained from solidarity groups, trade unions and lawyers (see addresses on back).

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1. Legalisation of your residence
Persons from outside Europe seldom have the possibility to gain a residence permit in Switzerland. As a Sans-Papiers, your possibilities of receiving a legal residence status are reduced almost strictly to cases of hardship («Härtefall») or marriage. Permit in a case of hardship (Härtefall) The law states that migrants illegally residing in Switzerland must leave the country immediately except in cases of Acute Personal Hardship. In cases regarding Acute Personal Hardship, persons may submit an individual plea/application to the authorities. Each application for a «Permit in a Case of Hardship» is reviewed intensively. Criteria such as length of stay in Switzerland, degree of integration, education of children, health and others are all taken into consideration. The authorities assume that a Case of Hardship generally does not exist when the persons’ stay in Switzerland is less than four years. Only in cases

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of a longer stay will the authorities seriously review and consider your application. Today (2007), the future of the individual case of Hardship Regulation is rather uncertain. The situation for former asylum seekers who went into hiding is even more difficult: They have virtually no possibility for a new process or for an application for a Case of Hardship. Note! The authorities make decisions based on their own discretion regarding applications for Cases of Hardship. Marriage Every person has the right to marry. In reality however, this is not easy for Sans-Papiers due to an absence of a residence permit. Several Cantons allow you to marry on location. Some Cantons however, demand that you return to your home country, acquire a visa and legally re-enter Switzerland. If a fictitious marriage is suspected, the registrar in Switzerland may refuse to accomplish the marriage ceremony.

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Note! In cases of divorce within the first five years of marriage, as of 2008 within the first three years, you run the risk of losing your residence permit. Demand: Collective regulation For years Sans-Papiers and support groups have been fighting for collective regulation. Some achievements have been made, such as the granting of over one thousand residence permits as well as the right to acquire health insurance. In regions where Sans- Papiers are well organized, new doors may be opened. A large campaign in Geneva lead to the Canton demanding 5000 residence permits from Berne for domestic/home workers. Engage yourself and help the cause with various Sans-Papiers collectives and groups.

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2. Health
Sans-Papiers live under difficult conditions. Work is often strenuous and hard on one’s health. In addition, they cope with the stress of residing illegally as well as being far from the homeland. All of these factors may seriously impact your physical and mental health. Some warning signals that you should pay attention to and take seriously are back-aches, bad moods and depression to name a few. Don’t just live for others and the distant future. Make time for activities and things that you like to do. Join and participate in a group or hang out with people to break away from isolation. Right to receive medical care Health is a human right, which applies to SansPapiers as well. If you are sick or injured, you are obliged to receive medical care even if you are not insured. Hospitals have social services open to you, which may be of further assistance if you have problems. Doctors and hospital personnel are

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bound to secrecy. They may not share any of your personal information with anyone nor inform the police. Right to obtain medical insurance You have the to right to obtain medical and accident insurance. Costs for medical treatment, hospital stays, pregnancy and giving birth will be covered by the health insurance company. Dental care is not covered under a standard health insurance policy. Health insurance is not free however. You make a monthly payment referred to as a «Prämie» or premium. For those with low-income, several Cantons offer a discount. This is referred to as «Prämienverbilligung », and must be applied for (your local information centre can assist you with this matter). The health insurance companies are also bound to secrecy. However, we suggest that when you open an insurance account and policy, you provide the address of a reliable thirdperson.

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Contraception/HIV–Aids You may receive assistance from doctors, hospitals and outreach centers for information regarding contraceptives and abortion (see addresses on back). Condoms protect you from HIV/Aids while having sex. They do not require a doctor’s prescription and you may purchase them freely in any pharmacy or department store.

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3. Work/Employment
If you agree to work for a person or company for a salary or wage, even if the agreement is verbal, it counts as a valid employment contract. An employment contract guarantees you minimal working conditions: I Right to a salary following local and professional guidelines. I Right to paid vacation (generally four weeks per year). I Minors under fifteen years of age are not permitted to work. Those under eighteen years of age may not work nights or weekends. Minors may not work more than nine hours a day. If you are domestically employed, your employer is obliged to provide you with an accommodation that protects your private sphere. There is compulsory education in Switzerland. Therefore, you have the right to attend school for nine years, even if you do not have a residence permit. I A reasonable period of notice regarding layoffs/ redundancies. The employer must inform you an

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adequate time in advance if he/she does not wish to employ you any longer. Continuation of payment during sickness for a limited time. AHV/IV (Social Security/Retirement Arrangement and Disability Insurance) (see chapter on social insurances)

Over and over again, Sans-Papiers receive no wage or too low a wage. If a direct discussion with your employer doesn’t bring any results, in some Cantons you may bring forth a case to the labor court. Stay informed! You may grant someone power of attorney to bring forth a case and represent you in court. This allows you to bring forth a case even if you have returned to your home country for up to five years. Tip: When you present yourself to an employer for the first time, ask them questions about the work: How much will you earn? How many hours must you work? What types of tasks must you complete or not complete? Try to make your working hours as clear as possible. This is especially important if you live at your employers (domestic work).

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Arrange with them what days you have off. Ask them if you can have the above-mentioned agreements on paper as a contract. Tip: Record your working hours every day, this way if there is a problem or dispute with your employer you can prove and make clear to them what you have completed and when. Tip: As a Sans-Papiers you may join a trade union without any risk. They can help and accompany you with any legal matters as well as stand up for better working conditions. Social insurances Social insurances are obligatory for all persons living in Switzerland. The most important of them are the Social Security/Retirement Arrangement (AHV), Disability/ Invalidity Insurance (IV), Unemployment Insurance (ALV), Accident Insurance (UVG) and a Pension Fund (Pensionskasse). Every employer is obliged to register their employees with the various insurances. These will not denounce Sans-Papiers to the migration authorities.

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When you are registered with the social insurances, you will receive a grey AHV-card. Your employer still employs you illegally, you are however at least insured against accidents and disability/invalidity. When you retire, you will additionally receive a small pension (even in your home country). Note! Employers exist who make various deductions from your salary but don’t deposit them with the insurance companies and institutions. The fact that you’ve received an AHV-card doesn’t guarantee that your employer makes payments. Tip: Speak to your employer about the possibility of registering you with the various social insurances. Inform yourself in any case about what is customary in practice and in your Canton of residence. Tip: Before returning to your home country, definitely find out about the redemption modalities of your social insurance payments.

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4. Kindergarten and school
Public schools must educate all children impartial to their residence status (including Sans-Papiers children). This applies for the compulsory nine years of schooling. It is also possible for Sans-Papiers children to attend kindergarten.

In some Cantons Sans-Papiers children may continue their education past the compulsory nine years. (Gymnasium for example). Taking part in an apprenticeship however is not possible for Sans-Papiers youth. Schools and teachers are not permitted to pass on any information about children to the police. Tip: Teachers are confidants and therefore almost always show understanding for the difficult situation Sans-Papiers children have. Partake in parents’ evenings and other happenings related to your child’s school. If you are afraid, bring someone along.

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5. Language courses
We recommend that you learn the local language. This is of great advantage for living in Switzerland. You can more easily participate in everyday life and are able to represent your interests. Contact information centres and schools for appropriate language courses.

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6. Living/Accommodation
It may prove difficult to find an accommodation without a valid residence permit. Sans- Papiers often are stuck with small overpriced apartments. Finding an apartment is the easiest when a person residing legally here rents one for you. By doing so this person makes him-/herself liable to prosecution. The landlord/lessor may not demand a price that exceeds the customary local rate. Additionally, the rent may not greatly exceed that of the previous tenant/ leesee. The landlord/lessor may not demand more than three months rent as a deposit. If you pay your rent and don’t cause any damages, you will be returned your deposit when the accommodation is handed over. Demand a receipt for your deposit payment.

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Tip: Ask if the landlord/lessor will provide you with deposit/payment slips. Pay the rent under your name at the post office. You will be handed back a stamped receipt if you do so. Payment receipts are the best evidence supporting that you have paid your rent and that it was on time. Tip: In case the landlord/lessor demands too high a rent or refuses to pay back your deposit, speak with someone at an advising centre so that they may negotiate with him/her. If this does not bring results, in some Cantons you have the possibility to go before an arbitration board.

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7. Police
From the view of the authorities, you are breaking the law by your mere presence in Switzerland. Working without a permit is a further crime.

If the authorities find out about your residence or stay in Switzerland, you will generally be deported and banned from entering the country for 2–3 years. Additionally you can receive a fine and/or jail time. The migration authorities may order deportation detainment. If this is the case, you will remain in detainment until the authorities can arrange and regulate your deportation. The legality of detaining you must be reviewed by a judge and be considered legitimate within 96 hours of your detention. Deportation detention, plus a possible custody enforcement, may last a maximum of 24 months.

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Police stop-and-search operations and your rights I The Police are authorized to stop you and check your personal details.
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If you don’t have a residence permit you will most likely be brought to the police station. Demand from them when you are there that you be given contact to a lawyer/attorney or advising centre. You will subsequently be put through interrogation and questioning. The interrogator must treat you respectably and may not threaten or assault you. Demand a translator for the interrogation. Don’t answer or sign anything unless you completely understand. You have the right to refuse to testify. You do not have to provide any information about your address, employer or friends. You may simply answer: «Ich habe dazu nichts zu sagen». (I have nothing to say to that). Say nothing rather than lie. Lies are

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generally identified and you lose your credibility. Your personal details: family name, first name, date of birth and home country are the only information you have to provide to the authorities.
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During a basic control the police may not perform a body and/or cavity search unless they have probable cause. However, if you are searched, demand for an officer of the same sex. The police may only search one’s home if they have a search warrant. Demand a receipt for any confiscated belongings. Demand that your private agenda, calendar, notes etc. be kept under bond. Police officers will not be allowed to look in them nor make copies. Only the examining magistrate or judge has the power to lift the bond. Notify the human rights organization «Augenauf» regarding any instances of brutality or violations of your rights.

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Useful Addresses

Basel Contact Point for Sans-Papiers Rebgasse 1 (1st floor), 4058 Basel, T +41 61 681 56 10, www.sans-papiers-basel.ch Union of Workers Without a Legal Residence c/o Interprofessionnelle Gewerkschaft der Arbeiter/-innen IGA, Oetlingerstrasse 74, 4057 Basel, T +41 61 681 92 91, ww.viavia.ch Trade Union Unia Rebgasse 1, 4058 Basel, T +41 61 686 73 00 Universitätsfrauenklinik (University Womens’ hospital) Social service (Karin Hänggi), Spitalstrasse 21, 4031 Basel T +41 61 265 90 64 Augenauf Postfach, 4005 Basel, T +41 61 681 55 22, www.augenauf.ch Zürich Information Center for Sans-Papiers (SPAZ) Stauffacherstrasse 60, Postfach 1536, 8026 Zürich, T +31 43 243 95 78, www.spaz.ch Colectivo Sin Papeles Zurich Postfach, 8023 Zürich colectivosinpapeleszurich@yahoo.es Trade Union Unia Stauffacherstrasse 60, 8004 Zürich T +41 44 296 18 18, www.unia.ch Meditrina (Health centre) Anwandstrasse 7, 8004 Zürich, T +41 44 291 92 33, www.msf/meditrina FIZ Information Centre for Women from Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe Badenerstrasse 134, 8004 Zürich T +41 1 240 44 22, www@fiz-info.ch Augenauf Postfach, 8026 Zürich, T +41 44 241 11 77 www.augenauf.ch

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Bern Bernese Information Centre for Sans-Papiers Schwarztorstrasse 124, 3007 Bern, T +41 31 385 18 27, www.sans-papiers.contact.ch Sans-Papiers-Kollektiv Bern Quartiergasse 17, 3013 Bern, T +41 78 801 26 34, www.sans-papiers-bern.ch Trade Union Unia Monbijoustrasse 61, 3001 Bern, T +41 31 385 22 22, www.unia.ch Mebif (Medical information centre for illegal female migrants) Schwarztorstrasse 124, 3007 Bern, T +41 79 666 95 72, www.mebif.ch Centre for family planning Effingerstrasse 102, Floor D, 3010 Bern, T +41 31 632 12 60, familienplanung.fkl@insel.ch Augenauf Postfach 363, 3000 Bern 11, T +41 31 332 02 35, www.augenauf.ch VD La Fraternité Place Arlaud 2, 1003 Lausanne, T +41 21 213 03 53, www.csp.ch Collective vaudois de soutien aux sans-papiers Case postale 5758, 1002 Lausanne, T +41 76 448 62 67, www.sans-papiers-vd.ch Collectif de soutien et de défense des sans-papiers de la Côte 14, rue Mauverney, 1296 Gland, T +41 22 362 69 88, www.interculturel.ch/sanspapiers.htm Coordination Asile Vaud www.stoprenvoi.ch Trade Union Unia Place de la Riponne 4, 1002 Lausanne, T +41 21 310 66 00, www.unia.ch

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GE Collectif de soutien aux sans-papiers 25, rte des Acacias, 1227 Acacias, Genève, T +41 22 301 63 33, www.sans-papiers.ch/geneve Collectif des travailleuses et travailleurs sans statut légal (CTSSL) c/o Centre de contact suisses – immigrés (CCSI), 25, rte des Acacias, 1227 Acacias, Genève, T +41 22 301 63 33, +41 78 756 57 87 Unité mobile de soins communautaires HUG 4, Rue Hugo-deSenger, 1205 Genève, T +41 22 382 53 11, +41 79 447 36 57 Trade Union Unia 5, chemin Surinam, 1211 Genève, T +41 22 949 12 00, www.unia.ch FR Centre de contact suisse-immigrés (CCSI) Bd. de Pérolles 91, Case postale 218, 1705 Fribourg, T +41 26 424 21 25, www.ccsi-sos-racisme.ch Frisanté, Permanence médicale 12, rue François-Guillimann, 1700 Fribourg, T +41 26 341 03 30 Trade Union Unia Rue des Alpes 11, 1701 Fribourg, T +41 26 347 31 31, www.unia.ch

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VS Centre de contact suisse-immigrés (CCSI) Avenue de Mayenetts 27, 1950 Sion, T +41 27 323 12 16, csivs@bluewin.ch TI Movimento dei Senza Voce Via Paradiso 7B, 6500 Bellinzona, T +41 91 825 05 63, +41 79 794 83 88, www.senzavoce.ch Switzerland in general Lawyers Democratic lawyers of Switzerland, www.djs-jds.ch Sans-Papiers www.sans-papiers.ch Central secretariat of Unia Weltpoststrasse 20, 3000 Bern 15 T +41 31 350 21 11, www.unia.ch International Politics and campaigns Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), www.picum.org Adresses in Europe European Network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees, www.united.non-profit.nl

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This publication was created by the Trade Union Unia and the Information Centre for Sans-Papiers in Basel; supported by the Democratic Lawyers of Switzerland, the Gertrud Kurz Foundation and HEKS.

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