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Swiss canton Zug pushes for tougher language rules for naturalisation

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Swiss canton Zug pushes for tougher language rules for naturalisation
Foreigners in Zug may face tougher naturalisation requirements. Photo by Alvin Lim on Unsplash

It could become slightly harder in future for foreign residents in the canton of Zug to become Swiss.


The cantonal government has responded favourably to a motion from the populist Swiss People’s Party calling for a better language proficiency to obtain Swiss citizenship.

Until now, people who wish to obtain Swiss citizenship in the German-speaking canton of Zug, where about 30 percent of the population is foreign, must have a proficiency of a B1 (intermediate) oral level, and A2 (upper elementary) in written skills.

This level corresponds to the minimum requirements set by the federal government for naturalisations. It is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CERF).

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Under the new proposal, however, the candidate should have level B2 (upper intermediate) for oral German and level B1(intermediate) in writing.

“Better knowledge of the language strengthens independence and thus increases professional chances,” Zug’s Council of State said. “Naturalised people should be able to participate in political, social and economic life."
It added that “the language requirements currently in force in the canton of Zug do not guarantee this in all cases.”


The Council also argued that the current language rules are “too flexible" and must be toughened, as some cantons, such as Schwyz or Nidwalden, have done.

So far, eight out of 11 Zug municipalities are supporting the proposal. Three rejected it, and one said that the new measure, if implemented, would harm the canton’s “open attitude to the world and to the economy.”

The cantonal parliament must now weigh in.


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