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Old 01.09.2009, 22:34
Posts: n/a
Re: Facilitated naturalization interview

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In my experience, there are two levels of filtering:
  1. First level is at your local Embassy, where they will check (through the interview) whether you can speak one of the languages and what I call your local credentials: local Swiss nationals who know you (and who wrote letters for you), membership in local groups, etc. In my case, I made sure to participate in a couple of events organized by the group I belong to, where I knew the lady from the embassy would be present. That way, I was already in her mind by the time of the interview.
  2. Second level is at Bern. They re-check everything the local embassy did, but have to trust the local good judgment anyway. Then, if they feel satisfied with that, they will contact the Swiss people living in Switzerland whose names you included in your application. They will basically ask them three questions: 1) do you know this person? 2) does this person have close ties with Switzerland? 3) can this person speak one of the official Swiss languages?
Hope this helps, good luck and best regards.
I find the experience of others quite different from my own. But there are different kinds of 'facilitated naturalisation' and perhaps that's the reason.

At one time, when Switzerland prohibited dual nationality, many Swiss women lost their Swiss nationality involuntarily by act of law when they married and automatically gained their husband's nationality. Or else when they voluntarily naturalised. After Swiss women gained the vote in the 1960s there was increasing anger over those expatriations, and it became possible for expatriated women to apply for restoration of Swiss nationality. My mother did that. They had to prove continued contacts with Switzerland.

Subsequently offspring of those women, and their minor children (grandchildren of the women with restored nationality) became entitled to facilitated naturalisation on condition that they speak a Swiss language, have lived 3 years in Switzerland, and have Swiss contacts.

My impression, from my own rather casual participation in the process, is that -- at least in the late 1990s -- criteria were not too strictly applied. Certainly nobody ever grilled me in French (and never mind that my ancestral and, now, actual commune of origin is Argovian); I had the distinct impression that the Swiss consular officer in New York who interviewed me did not want to speak French and was satisfied that my having attended university in Belgium meant that I met the qualification.

Ironically my residence in Switzerland was mostly as a foreign diplomat, for about 2-1/2 years. And for the rest I noted that I'd been taking holidays in Switzerland for decades and aside from a few months spent with relatives in 1961 had no details to offer.

Nor could I list very many Swiss friends and relatives. Most of our family died without issue. I have a large family tree but only four living relatives' names of persons resident in Switzerland appear on it.

And, some say, there's the crux of the matter. If the Swiss are inherently anti-immigration, what better way to compensate for low birth rate than to repatriate the second and third generation of those who left Switzerland when economic times were hard? Although as regular readers of Swiss Review will know, there's been a problem: the third generation does not have a language test. Many third-generation migrant Swiss who came to Switzerland from Argentina when that country's economy collapsed did not in fact speak a Swiss language and were handicapped in further education and employment. (Of course, today, like Micheletti -- Spanish speaking Italian citizen from Argentina -- such migrants could use the EU treaties to advantage. )

My children attended French lycées, so "speaking a Swiss language" is not an issue. But for our youngest daughter, a recent medical graduate in England, Switzerland has only a fraction of the population of London and remains "just a nice place to visit". Even though she travels on a Swiss passport in preference to any of the other three she is entitled to by reason of ancestry or place of birth.

I grew up in the footprint of the Swiss Benevolent Society of New York, an organisation that still exists but had to close the Swiss Home in Mount Kisco as the Swiss community diminished and anti-discrimination law anyway threatened its identity. Perhaps the Consulate General knew all that, but we didn't talk about it. Just handed over forms. If the experience of others on this (and other) threads is accurate I suppose I should have been surprised when my application was approved, but that was then and this is now.
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