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Report: Swiss citizenship rules leave some stateless

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Report: Swiss citizenship rules leave some stateless
File photo: Martin Abegglen
10:47 CEST+02:00
Some people in Switzerland can be left ‘stateless’ when the authorities withdraw their Swiss passport on suspicion of a sham marriage, the Tages Anzeiger has reported.

Under Swiss rules, a foreign national who obtained Swiss citizenship through marriage to a Swiss can have their naturalization revoked up to eight years after the marriage if the authorities suspect the marriage to be a sham, said the paper on Thursday.

Quoting figures from the Swiss Migration Office (SEM), the paper said around 50 to 60 naturalized Swiss have their citizenship revoked every year.

The number of such cases has risen since the beginning of the century, with only eight in 2000, according to SEM figures.

And in some cases, it can leave the person stateless, said the paper.

It quotes the example of a man originally from Angola who has lived in Switzerland for 20 years.

After his marriage to a Swiss – through which he obtained Swiss citizenship – ended in divorce in 2008, the SEM revoked his naturalization. But, no longer having an Angolan passport, he was left stateless.

Speaking to the paper, the SEM confirmed that its policy can result in making people stateless, if, for example, the person’s country of origin does not recognize double-citizenship and demanded they relinquish their original nationality to become Swiss.

Currently, the SEM does not have figures on the number of people affected in this way.

However the Tages Anzeiger added that international law means Switzerland cannot make terrorists stateless. The authorities may withdraw Swiss nationality, but only if the person concerned has a second nationality, said the SEM.

In Switzerland, the foreign spouse of a Swiss citizen can apply for simplified naturalization – an easier process than ordinary naturalization – if they meet certain conditions, for example if they have lived in Switzerland for five years, or lived with their Swiss partner for three years.

Even foreign spouses living abroad can request simplified naturalization under certain conditions, according to the SEM.

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