Geneva regularises almost 2,400 clandestine immigrants  

The info brochure "Operation Papyrus", as seen in February 2017 © Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

Canton Geneva has regularised 2,390 non-official immigrants under its now completed ‘Papyrus’ scheme, officials said on Friday. The unique project has been hailed a success.

This content was published on February 21, 2020 - 13:50

The Papyrus scheme to regularise the situation of long-term undocumented migrants in Geneva was officially launched on February 20, 2017 and finished at the end of 2018. It was the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Presenting an analysis of the scheme in Geneva on Friday, officials saidExternal link an external assessment had found that Papyrus had not led to an influx of migrants to the region, as some critics had feared. Overall, the project was positive for those concerned but also for the local labour market and social security, the report concluded.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), which supportedExternal link the scheme, says that there are around 13,000 people living without official documentation in Geneva.

A good percentage of regularised migrants had found employment in domestic work, cantonal officials said. Overall, the scheme has helped fight illegal work and wage dumping in the region, they said at a press conference.

Strict criteria

People applying to be regularised under Papyrus had to meet strict criteria. For families with children, one family member had to prove they had been living in Geneva for at least five years continuously. For people without children, the requirement was ten years. 

For their part, the authorities introduced accompanying measures to prevent abuses and to keep newly regularised workers on the job market, so they did not have to rely on social assistance if they lost their jobs.

However, it has not all been plain sailing. In January this year, the Office of the Attorney General of Geneva said it was investigating a suspected case of fraud linked to the Papyrus scheme.

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