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SWISS CITIZENSHIP

Would you pass a Swiss citizenship test?

Becoming a Swiss citizen requires you to take a test. Here's a chance to see whether you would pass.

Would you pass a Swiss citizenship test?
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Twenty-five-year-old Funda Yilmaz was born in Switzerland, has lived there her whole life, works locally in a technical profession, speaks fluent Swiss German and is engaged to a Swiss.
 
Despite passing the written exam, after an interview with local councillors – an important step in the naturalization process in Switzerland, where the cantons and communes have more say than the federal government – Yilmaz was rejected in her canton of Aargau, because she wasn’t “sufficiently integrated,” reported the Aargauer Zeitung at the time.
 
Apparently, Yilmaz had not given satisfactory answers to a set of over 70 questions that the panel asked her, covering everything from her personal life to her job and her knowledge of Swiss mountains. 
 
 
Since the transcript of her interview was made public by the magazine Schweizer Illustrierte last week, many have criticized the arbitrary nature of the questions, which the Tages Anzeiger called an “embarrassment”.
 
The transcript highlights the highly specific and often bizarre questions that Yilmaz faced, as she is quizzed about her health insurance model, her social life, how often she holidays in Switzerland and whether she likes hiking (she said no).
 
Since citizenship procedures vary between cantons, local residents’ councils do not all ask the same questions.
 
The Buchs transcript is an example of an arbitrary system that has previously seen an American professor turned down after 39 years in Switzerland because he didn’t know enough about his local region, a Dutch woman rejected because she complained about cow-bells and a Kosovan family turned down partly because of the clothes they wore.
 
“The fact that arbitrariness plays a role in today’s system is un-Swiss,” wrote the Tages Anzeiger, which called for changes to be made. 
 
So would you pass? Test yourself by seeing if you could answer some of the questions that Yilmaz was asked.
 
Do you know the Swiss emergency numbers?
 
Have you been to the August 1st (Swiss National Day) celebration?
 
Do you know how your accident insurance works?
 
What would you do if you had a medical emergency?
 
Name some local recreation/sports clubs?
 
What public events are held in your town?
 
What would you say is typically Swiss?
 
Do you know any typical Swiss sports?
 
What museums does the local area offer?
 
Do you go on holiday within Switzerland?
 
How many language regions does Switzerland have?
 
What are the names of your local cinemas?
 
What do you know about the Alps?
 
Where is the Matterhorn?
 
 
 
For members

SWISS CITIZENSHIP

Switzerland revokes citizenship for ‘unfair and deceptive behaviour’

A woman who gained a Swiss passport through marriage has had her citizenship revoked after she divorced - just one of the reasons that Swiss nationality can be removed from foreigners.

Switzerland revokes citizenship for ‘unfair and deceptive behaviour’

Married in 2010 to a Swiss man 15 years her senior, a Moroccan woman became naturalised through the facilitated process in 2015, but separated from her husband just months later.

As soon as the couple divorced in 2017, the woman remarried in Lebanon, raising suspicions among Swiss authorities about the ulterior motives behind her marriage in Switzerland.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why ‘simplified’ Swiss naturalisation is actually not that simple

According to media reports on Monday, “after inquiring into the circumstances of the couple’s breakup” and concluding that the woman married expressly to get a Swiss passport,  the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) revoked her naturalisation.

She appealed the decision, first to an administrative court, and then to Switzerland’s highest judicial authority, the Federal Court. Both have upheld SEM’s decision.

“The SEM may cancel the facilitated naturalisation obtained by false statements or by the concealment of essential facts”, the federal judge ruled, adding that the woman obtained her citizenship through “disloyal and deceptive behaviour”.

While this may seem like a rare occurrence, in fact it is not.

On average, SEM revokes close to 50 naturalisations each year following a divorce.

But there are also other circumstances when the government can strip someone of Swiss citizenship.

As The Local reported earlier in 2022, “dual nationals can have their Swiss citizenship revoked if their conduct is seriously detrimental to Switzerland’s interests or reputation”.

One example of when such a drastic and irrevocable step can be taken is in the case of people convicted of war crimes, terrorism, or treason.

Between 1940 and 1947, 80 Swiss nationals were deprived of their citizenship because they collaborated with the Nazis.

More recently, in 2019, a Turkish-Swiss dual national lost his Swiss citizenship after being convicted by the Federal Criminal Court for being a member of Islamic State (ISIS).

The last such case, in 2020, involves a woman who was born and raised in Geneva but also has a French passport in addition to a Swiss one. She took her two young daughters to live in the ISIS enclave in Syria without the knowledge of their respective fathers.

In both these cases, authorities revoked their citizenship, banning them from returning to Switzerland and possibly posing a security threat within the country.

Whatever the reason for withdrawing the citizenship, it can only be done if the person has a second nationality. Otherwise, Switzerland would create stateless people, an act prohibited by international law.

And while in certain cases the citizenship can be reinstated, you can’t get it back if your naturalisation has been nullified or if your citizenship has been revoked, for reasons cited above.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Can Swiss citizenship be revoked – and can you get it back?
 

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