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Job opportunities

Chances for refugees boosted by short asylum procedure

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Long asylum procedures seriously hamper the chances of refugees of finding a job in Switzerland, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances.

The survey is based on data of 17,000 people with temporary refugee status in Switzerland between 1994 and 2004. The information was provided by the State Secretariat for Migration.

The researchers found that immigrants who have to wait more than 12 months for the result of the official vetting process see their chances of finding employment reduced by one fifth, from 23 to 18 percentage points, the Swiss National Science Foundation says in a release on Wednesday.

The study author, Dominik Hangartner, says the long waiting period is discouraging refugees irrespective of their professional skills, nationality, age or gender.

"We can safely assume that the longer they have to wait, the more discouraged the refugees become," the political scientist is quoted.

Economic benefits

The study was carried out by the Migration and Integration Policy research group at the University of Zurich in cooperation with Stanford University in the United States.

The authors say the survey is the first scientific evidence worldwide of the impact of a short asylum application procedure.

"Every franc invested in speeding up asylum application procedures has a positive impact," Hangartner told the Le Temps newspaper.

"This result [of the study] may have been expected by some people," adds Jens Hainmueller from Stanford in the press release of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

"But speculations are one thing. Knowing how great an effect actually is, and thus being able to calculate the economic costs and benefits of a change in law, is something entirely different," he adds.

In June, Swiss voters approved a government-sponsored reform of the asylum law. It is aimed at speeding up procedures to a maximum of 140 days from currently 280 days on average.

The project was opposed by the rightwing Swiss People's Party.

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Urs Geiser,