I had read so many things on the internet about how painful the process of applying for Swiss Citizenship could be, I know, I know, don't believe what you read on the Internet, but sometimes it is the only source of information. Anyway, those accounts of police turning up at 10pm to check if you really are married to who you say you are, and to question you about the number of cantons/lakes/political parties there are in CH, couldn't be further from the reality of my situation.
For me the whole process took under 6 months. Which is fairly speedy, according to what I have read about other peoples experience. And the criteria that you have to fulfill is quite vague in some areas.
I was however very organised and submitted everything that the Migration office could possibly ask for with the original application. We sent bank statements, marriage certificate, birth certificate and signed forms to give permission to view our police records and tax files.
One of the biggest areas people have problems with is proving strong ties to Switzerland. Also, these strong ties are dependent on what the person reviewing the application thinks 'strong ties' are.
I wrote a letter accompanying my application saying that although during our marriage we have lived mostly overseas we regularly visited family and friends in Switzerland they also came to visit us around the world. We joined the Swiss Association in Asia and the USA and attended events organised by them. I included about over 30 photos of my husband and I together at family parties in CH, family visiting us overseas and taking trips with us in Asia and the US and also photos at events such as Swiss Club Dragon Boat Race in Hong Kong, and Oktoberfest at the Swiss Club in Singapore. My husband also wrote a letter explaining that we were now settled in Switzerand and were planning to build our home here.
The interview process for me was a quick informal few questions about my work history and school qualifications. The rest was straightforward. This was because we know most of the people in our Geminde personally and socially. I see some of these people in the street, or in the local restaurant (where they have to suffer my painful German) so they know first hand that I am intergrating in the local community and working hard on being able to speak German. Our local Mayor even wrote a note on my application to say he knew us personally, we always see hm out and about in the local restaurants and bars.
Integrating in the local community is another vague area, in the application process. There isn't a clearly defined criteria or set of questions. Some people are asked about the political parties or asked to name the lakes to prove they 'know about' Switzerland, but in my experience, being an active part of the community and being a familiar face in the town made these questions unnecessary.
One of the other big questions that hangs over applicants for citizenship is 'is the marriage real?'. I have heard stories of police wanting to see the bedrooms of applicats to check if they sleep together, or turning up late at night to conduct the interview to make sure they live together. As there were a couple senior members of the local political party actually at our wedding and my husband went to school with a few people who work in the Geminde, there was no question that our marriage is real. We also asked the architect who is designing our house to be a sponsor on my citizenship application. He has witnessed my husband and I spend hours 'debating' every small detail involved in designing our home..... he can say with his hand on his heart that we are a 'real' marriage.
If we lived in the centre of Zurich or any other big city, then I'm sure the process wouldn't of been anywhere near this simple, I'm pretty sure we would of been asked to prove our marriage isn't a sham, would of been questioned about Swiss mountain ranges or historical figures, and probably given a much stricter test of my spoken German.
So for once I am glad we live in a quiet town where everybody knows exactly what you are up to......
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