This week, the government of the canton of Aargau was poised to make it harder to become Swiss in the canton, reported RTS.
The canton’s parliament voted in favour of increasing the language requirements and applying stricter judicial restrictions.
Becoming a citizen in Switzerland is already difficult by international standards. Rules set at a federal level require candidates to have a particular residency visa (a C permit), 10 years of residency, be integrated, have a clean criminal record and to have mastered the local language – the recommended level is B1 oral and A2 written.
Canton’s and municipalities can then add additional requirements. They can specify local residency requirements, disqualify those who have received welfare, determine integration requirements and raise the necessary language levels.
Aargau already has one of the strictest welfare forbearance requirements. Candidates must not have taken any welfare in the 10 years prior to applying. Most cantons require that the last 3 years be welfare free, the duration set at a federal level.
Now Aargau’s government wants to raise the language level and tighten judicial record requirements.
Against the position of the canton’s executive, 69 versus 63 members of parliament voted in favour of increasing the minimum language level to B2 oral (up from B1) and A2 written. In addition, 73 versus 59 voted in favour of stricter rules on criminal records. Currently, records must contain no convictions. Aargau’s parliament voted to require a completely a clean record with no entries at all, citing a decision by the Federal Administrative Tribunal to grant a naturalisation appeal to 18 year old shoplifter.
The higher language requirements would bring them to the level necessary for study at a Swiss university.
Aargau has a reputation for being a tough place to become Swiss. It made the news when a Dutch an anti-cowbell campaigner was refused citizenship by her municipality. Eventually, she was granted citizenship in 2017. In this case the naturalisation decision was imposed on the municipality by the canton.