Switzerland brought in a new requirement for foreigners who want to apply for citizenship. From now on, foreigners must complete a formal test of one of four national languages in order to prove to be a suitable level.
It is expected that this new rule will result in quite a dramatic decrease of applications in the first six months after becoming effective. One more indicator is simply naturalization, which allows the foreign spouses and children of Swiss citizens to receive the citizenship much easier, which has dropped by a third in the last two last years. Moreover, the number of applicants was extremely low in French-speaking regions like Geneva and Vaud.
New citizenship rules
This year, the Swiss government approved new regulations that made the citizenship process even more complicated for foreigners.
Now, it is mandatory to prove A2 level (elementary) writing skills and B1 (intermediate) speaking ability. Therefore, the coherence in language testing didn’t exist: e.g. many French-language regions base their decision on verbal ability. Thus, now when new language requirements are much higher, citizenship application numbers are much lower. Meanwhile, many German-speaking places like Basel, Bern and Zurich, where language-testing was established while ago, maintained the same level of applications.
Exams “scare people off”
It’s believed that the new rule discourages people from applying: when the language requirement was introduced back in 2015 for the very first time in Zurich, the number of citizenship applications was reduced by 16.5%.
Language teachers agree that even though students are able to pass the test, the test itself scares them off.
Moreover, long-term residents, who have tried to pass the test and failed, are also complaining about many rounds of interviews and more than 100 questions’ questionnaires that they must answer.
It seems the Swiss take their citizenship quite seriously and people who would like to have one need to sweat a bit.