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Am I entitled to unemployment benefit after returning to Switzerland from a non-EU/EFTA country?

20.11.2019 – OSA’s Legal Service

“I am a Swiss expatriate who has been living in a non-EU/EFTA country for the last two years. What would be my rights with regard to unemployment benefit if I returned to Switzerland?”

People who have most recently been working in a non-EU/EFTA country can register at a regional employment centre (RAV) in their home municipality after returning to Switzerland.

They will be entitled to unemployment benefit (for up to 90 days) provided they can prove (with salary statements) that they have been in paid employment in a non-EU/EFTA country for at least 12 of the previous 24 months. In addition, they need to prove that they have worked for at least six months in Switzerland during that time. This is because, as of 2018, this standard two-year time frame must also comprise a six-month contribution period in Switzerland. In other words: in the 24 months preceding the date on which you apply for unemployment benefit, you need to have been in gainful employment in Switzerland in order to qualify.

Anyone who has worked for a Swiss-domiciled company and consequently made Swiss unemployment insurance contributions during their time abroad will be treated the same as anyone who works in Switzerland.

Further information:

The OSA’s Legal Service provides general legal information on Swiss law, particularly in areas which concern the Swiss Abroad. It does not provide information on foreign law or intervene in disputes between private parties.