"Promoting and demanding" are the two pillars of the new Foreigners Law, which the Government has presented to the public for consultations. "Demanding" means that basic knowledge of German and integration into Liechtenstein society are demanded. "Promoting" means that the State offers assistance so that foreigners can meet these demands. The new Foreigners Act applies to third-country citizens, but not to EEA or Swiss citizens.

While German-speaking foreigners generally have a high level of education, a standard of living comparable to that of the Liechtenstein population, and are unlikely to experience exclusion, foreign-language immigrants in Liechtenstein tend to have lower than average qualifications, are exposed to a higher risk of poverty, and are more frequently affected by discrimination. Based on these conclusions from a survey on the "Integration of the Foreign Population in Liechtenstein", the Government intends to tighten the provisions for granting residence permits to third-country citizens.

Already in the Government Program for 2005 – 2009, the Government specified that the integration of foreigners should be promoted. The Government views the acquisition of German language skills to be a key element in the active integration of the foreign population. Until now, Liechtenstein has not had its own Foreigners Act. Since the conclusion of the Immigration Police Agreement in 1963, Liechtenstein residence provisions for foreigners have been based on the Swiss provisions. Changes arose from the EEA accession of Liechtenstein in 1995 and the gradual introduction by Switzerland of the free movement of persons for EU citizens. Moreover, a new Foreigners Act will enter into force in Switzerland on 1 January 2008, which offers Liechtenstein the possibility of creating its own Foreigners Act. The new provisions do not apply to Swiss citizens or EEA citizens, whose legal status is governed by the EEA Agreement and the Vaduz Convention.

With its own Foreigners Act, the content of which is based on the Swiss model, Liechtenstein will be able to continue its cooperation with Switzerland. At the same time, a legal basis can be established for the specific core objectives of Liechtenstein migration policy applicable to citizens outside Switzerland and the EEA. At the end of 2006, Liechtenstein's total population was 34,983, of which 5,817 or 16.6% were EEA citizens, 3,553 or 10.1% Swiss citizens, and 2,352 or 6.7% from other countries. Of these 2,352 third-country citizens, 328 (14%) came to Liechtenstein through employment, and 348 (15%) received a residence permit for family reunification with Liechtenstein, Swiss, or EEA citizens. 1,477 persons (63%) came to Liechtenstein through family reunification with third-country citizens. Finally, 199 third-country citizens came to Liechtenstein on other grounds, namely as refugees or by way of humanitarian admission.

With its new Foreigners Act, Liechtenstein continues to uphold the principle of limited admission and high requirements for admission, due to its small size. For immigrants from foreign-language countries, acquisition of the German language is considered a key to integration. All immigrants, with the exception of Swiss and EEA citizens, will henceforth be required to conclude an integration agreement. With this agreement, the third-country citizen agrees to become acquainted with the circumstances in Liechtenstein and in particular to learn oral and written German. The required language level, which can already now be acquired with the financial support of the State, is based on the European Language Portfolio.

According to Prime Minister Otmar Hasler, the goal of integration policy is the peaceful coexistence of the Liechtenstein and foreign population on the basis of the Constitution. At the same time, the participation of foreigners in the economic, social, and cultural life of the country should be facilitated. Overall, a society should evolve that is characterized by tolerance and cultural enrichment. For this reason, the new law will pay special attention to combating abuses. The law provides improved suppression of evasion and abuse of the law on foreigners. Effective measures are provided against fictitious and forced marriages with respect to family reunification. Expulsion and non-admission measures can be taken against persons who have violated the public safety and order or who threaten the internal or external security of the country.

If you would like further information on Liechenstein including current Liechtenstein topics please visit us at www.liechtenstein.li.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.