Providing a wide range of specialised services to promote good relations between Swiss living abroad and strengthen their ties with Switzerland.
Around 11% of the Swiss population lives abroad. Of the 751,800 Swiss nationals who were residing abroad at the end of 2017, 62% were living in Europe, 4% in Oceania. This expatriate community forms a multilingual and multicultural patchwork that is present on every continent. It makes an important contribution to Switzerland – hence the importance of building, strengthening and maintaining strong links. The OSA does this through a network of around 750 Swiss associations and institutions worldwide.
Several hundred Swiss living all over the world meet at the annual Congress of the Swiss Abroad which is organised by the OSA and takes place in a different city in Switzerland each year. As well as giving members the opportunity to share their views on topical subjects, these conferences also strengthen bonds between expatriates and facilitate contacts with the Swiss authorities and the public back home.
In 2010 the OSA devised and created the internet platform www.SwissCommunity.org. Its aim is to strengthen the link between the Swiss Abroad and Switzerland. Since then, it has grown to over 30,000 members. SwissCommunity is a free, high-quality platform exclusively serving the Swiss who have been, are, or will be resident abroad. It is designed and tailored to meet the needs of Swiss people worldwide, a global network that keeps Swiss people all over the world connected.
Programs and services for Swiss children and young people abroad
In association with its partner organisations, the OSA offers a variety of programs and services for Swiss children and young people living abroad. The holiday and training stays in Switzerland provide an exciting experience and opportunity to get to know the country and people and make friends with other young Swiss of their own age from all over the world.
In 2017 the Foundation for Young Swiss Abroad (FYSA) celebrated its centenary. It was established as a charity during WW1 in order to provide Swiss children living in disaster-torn areas abroad to enjoy a couple of weeks of respite with host families in Switzerland. For programs designed for children under 15 years of age, see the FYSA website: www.sjas.ch/en
Camp Engelberg 2017
Camp Valbella 2017/18
Camp Saas-Grund 2017/18
New Year's Camp Les Diablerets 2018
Swiss schools and Swiss educational projects abroad
In partnership with educationsuisse the OSA supports Swiss educational projects on four continents including 18 federally approved Swiss schools abroad, providing education based on Swiss principles for over 7,500 children. In mid 2017, the Swiss School Beijing opened – the first of its kind in China and the first new Swiss school abroad in more than three decades. educationsuisse advices and supports young Swiss Abroad as well as students enrolled in Swiss Schools abroad, who wish to pursue or complete their education or training in Switzerland. For more information click here.
The legislative body of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), met for its biannual meeting at the town hall in Bern on 23 March 2019. For the second time, the meeting followed on an exchange with Swiss parliamentarians for an update on political issues with relevance for the Swiss Abroad.
From 13 April to 29 September 2019, the Swiss Abroad will be featured in the Swiss History Forum in Schwyz as part of the exhibition ‘Switzerland elsewhere’.
Canton Geneva has announced it can no longer afford to bear the cost of an e-voting system and plans to abandon the project, according to Swiss public radio, RTS. This leaves only one other e-voting project still standing in Switzerland run by Swiss Post.
Read the full Swissinfo report here
The Consulate General of Switzerland in Sydney and the Embassy of Switzerland in Wellington inform that they plan to visit the following cities with the mobile passport station:
• Auckland (May)
• Northland (May – only if sufficient interest)
• Perth (first half of April)
• Melbourne (October)
Saturday, 15 September saw the ‘Young Swiss Citizen Celebration’ being held for the third time in Victoria. 15 young Swiss who recently celebrated their 18th birthday, and therefore have become fully-fletched Swiss citizens with all the rights and obligations that this entails, followed the invitation by the Hon. Consul, Manuela Erb, to a luncheon at the Swiss Club of Victoria. They were accompanied by their mums and dads, grandparents and brothers and sisters.
The Valais city of Visp hosted the 2018 Congress of the Swiss Abroad and assembly of the Council of the Swiss Abroad from August 10- 12. The social program included an excursion to the Ryffelberg-Gornergrat on the final day.
Members of the Council of the Swiss Abroad meeting in the town of Visp on Friday, 10 August approved plans to launch an online petition calling for the introduction of e-voting over the next three years. Oceania was represented at the meeting by Katja Wallimann Gates and Beat Knoblauch (pictured), Peter Ehrler and Peter Canziani.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 28 June 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) welcomes the Federal Council’s decision to commission the Federal Chancellery with the preparation of a project that makes e-voting a regular voting option. This decision represents a significant step forward in the introduction of e-voting and recognises it as a safe and reliable option. For Swiss Abroad, this e-voting is often the only way to exercise their political rights.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 13 June 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) representing the interests of 751,800 compatriots living abroad, is disappointed that the Council of States today rejected Motion 17.3626 by 30 votes to 9 with 4 abstentions. The Council of States has decided not to follow the majority of its Foreign Policy Commission (APK-S) and has rejected a motion calling on PostFinance to accept Swiss Abroad on similar terms as citizens residing in Switzerland. The problem that has existed for our compatriots living abroad for ten years remains unresolved.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 30 May 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) is relieved that the Council of States has today decided to follow the recommendation of its Commission on Social Security and Health (SGK-S) to delete the amendment to Article 4 (1) in the context of the supplementary benefits reform. This means that the current rules remain in place. Last March, the National Council approved an application whereby Swiss Abroad would have had to pay social security contributions (AHV) for at least ten years in order to qualify for supplementary benefits, which would have discriminated against Swiss Abroad.