BERN, Switzerland – The Swiss federal government announced it will stop issuing the so-called cabaret visa to non-EU residents as of 1 January 2016.
The special immigration dispensation passed in 1995 was originally aimed to protect cabaret dancers from sexual exploitation and it was seen as an exception to the rule for admission of unskilled workers in Switzerland.
The special visa gave workers – mostly strippers – the right to work in Switzerland for up to eight months a year.
However in 2010, after several police investigations, the Federal Office for Migration (FOM) concluded that the law did not fulfil its intended function and that it actually promoted the exploitation and trafficking of persons.
In June 2012, the Federal Council launched a consultation to repeal the regulation which revealed that while the opinion of legal and labor experts was divided, there was unanimous agreement on the need to protect these workers’ rights.
Later the Federal Department of Justice and Police established a national panel of experts which issued 26 recommendations to protect sex and cabaret workers’ rights, including the repeal of the special work visa.
According to the national victims law, should the rights of these workers be violated or exploited, they will be entitled to legal measures to assist them to either return to their home countries or request regularization of their immigrant status.