Life is still be on hold in many ways (although perhaps we will hear today from the Swiss federal government that Coronavirus restrictions may soon be relaxed.) But if you’re still thinking of applying for Swiss citizenship, there’s no time like the present! Read on!
If you missed the first three installments in this series, click here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. After passing our B1 DELF exam last spring, it was time to gather the supporting documents for our application. Since some of the documentation is time-sensitive (must be issued within 3 months of applying for naturalization,) it’s recommended to take the DELF (and have your certificate in hand), before gathering the other forms.
It is quite a list. Among other things, you will need:
- a record from the Swiss civil register that is less than 6 months old;
- a passport-type photograph;
- a certificate from the tax authorities, less than 3 months old, certifying that you have paid your taxes in full;
- a certificate from the debt collection (poursuites) office, dated less than 3 months ago, certifying that you have not been the subject of any legal proceedings forcibly brought against you or any act of default of property within 5 years;
- a declaration by which you certify, on your honor, that you have not been convicted of any criminal offence, in Switzerland or abroad, during the last 20 years;
- a DELF/other test certificate, showing a knowledge of A2 (written) and B1 (oral) French;
- a certificate of successful completion of the test validating knowledge of history, geography and institutions in Switzerland and Geneva;
- a certificate of all stays outside the canton of Geneva for those included in the federal and cantonal residence periods;
- a photocopy of the passport(s) and of the settlement permit (permit C);
- a copy of the latest tax assessment notice;
- the last school certificate and a copy of the last school report for children;
- a copy of the lease, sublease or property deed (in Switzerland and abroad);
- if your children are included: judgment mentioning the exclusive exercise of parental authority or letter of authorization and a copy of the identity document of the other legal representative (in case of joint parental authority).
If you knuckle down and charge ahead, it’s actually not very time-consuming to gather the forms and fill in the paperwork. A couple of weeks should do it (and/or you can order many of them online.) In addition to the items above, you will need to write a couple of short essays on why you first came to Switzerland, why you want to naturalize, and provide the names of five Swiss citizens (native or naturalized) that can vouch for your application.
We dropped off the stack of paperwork in mid-September to the OCP ( after one false start, a result of filling out a couple of forms incorrectly.) We had been warned by a colleague that things move quickly after submitting your forms, and this is correct. Within a few weeks, I received a phone call (not a letter!), from our interviewer-to-be at the OCP. We scheduled our interview for a few weeks later (end-October, or about six weeks from the time we dropped off the paperwork.) The interview could have taken place earlier, but I stalled to have more time to study.
The October 2019 elections were also approaching, so we began to familiarize ourselves with the issues, ballot initiatives, political parties, etc. We reviewed the study guide for the Connaître la Suisse et Genève exam, and practiced reciting all the things we love about Geneva and (more broadly) Switzerland.
Despite all this preparation, we were still anxious when we arrived at the OCP for our interview. We had heard that some interviewers could be really tough, while others were easy-going and disinclined to throw curveball questions.
Needless to say, we hoped for the latter, and luck was on our side. Our interviewer was a young woman who put us at ease straightaway. When we reached her office, she flipped quickly through our paperwork, asked a few general questions about why we moved to Switzerland, and whether we saw ourselves residing here indefinitely. She asked about the cantonal/federal elections, and which ballot initiatives/issues we found most interesting. I was grateful my husband had focused on that during his studies!
We shared how we were integrated in Geneva and our neighborhood (going to neighborhood festivals, parks, playgrounds, vide greniers, farmers’ markets); taking our kids to the local sporting complexes, pools, their extrascolaire activities, PTA/school involvement.) She asked whether we had traveled widely throughout Switzerland and we were glad to answer ‘Yes.’ And that was it! Overall, we felt we had enough latitude in answering the questions, and one piece of good advice we took to heart before the interview was “Start talking before they do!”
In all, the interview lasted about 25 minutes. Afterward she told us that we were approved for the next step (the commune-level interview), whew! If you live in Geneva commune, then this OCP interview is your only one (lucky you!) If you live in one of Geneva canton’s other 44 communes, you may have a second interview with your local mairie. More on that in the next installment! But, as always, I hope to put your mind at ease with becoming a naturalized Swiss citizen. It has been a much easier process than we expected. After this interview, we felt about 90% of the way there!
Have you gone through the naturalization process in Switzerland? Do you have questions or comments on the series so far? Leave them in the comments below!
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to learn more about our activities and excursions, visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/