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Zug: rich expats must learn local language

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The canton of Zug expects B1 level German. Photo: Andreas Gerth/Swiss Tourism
12:29 CET+01:00
The canton of Zug has rejected an initiative put forward last November to exempt rich foreigners from having to learn German if they want to be permanent residents.

Currently, Swiss federal law states that a C permit – a permanent residence permit acquired after at least five years of residency – can be “granted to successfully integrated persons, in particular if the persons concerned have good knowledge of a national language”.

Foreign residents in Zug must be able to speak the local language to the intermediate B1 level.

But last year a proposal in the canton suggested that nationals from outside the EU and EFTA – so-called ‘third state' countries – who have assets of over 20 million francs and an annual income of at least one million francs should be exempt from following German language courses to obtain a C permit.

According to backers of the proposal, Zug was at risk of losing high-wealth individuals from countries such as Russia and South Africa, which was not “in the fiscal interest of the canton”, Swiss media reported at the time.

But on Thursday the Zug cantonal parliament rejected the move by 44 votes to 27, refusing to “grant such privileges according only to wealth,” reported news agency ATS.

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Such a move would not be to public tastes, decided MPs from across the political spectrum.

Alberto Achermann, associate professor at the Centre for Migration Law at the University of Bern, said the proposal was “contrary to federal law”.

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