Thinking about applying for Swiss citizenship? Wondering whether the process is mired in red tape and obstacles? Throughout our Swiss Naturalization series, we aim to answer some of the questions you may have about this (sometimes intimidating) process.
For the previous installments in this 5-part series, click here:
- Where to Start.
- The Swiss History/Politics/Customs Exam.
- Passing the Language Exam.
- Red Tape and the In-Person interview at the OCPM.
During our cantonal-level interview at the OCP in late October 2019, we learned we had been approved for the next step: the in-person interview at the commune level. Because it was already close to November (2019), we were told not to expect an interview date until the new year (January 2020 at the earliest).
Sure enough, shortly afterward we received a letter from our local mairie indicating that our interview was scheduled for mid-January 2020. Again we flew into study-mode: memorizing the neighborhood’s street names, statues, and points of interest. We studied up on the latest local ballot measures, even though we hadn’t voted yet (and as a reminder, non-citizens can vote at the commune level in Geneva, so long as you have lived in the canton for 8 years.)
The day of the commune interview, we arrived a few minutes early to the mairie, trying our best to look like extremely responsible and upright potential citizens. After brief introductions, and to our surprise and relief, we were asked just one question by the local official interviewing us: “Do you like the neighborhood?”
Of course, the answer was an enthusiastic “Yes!” and we quickly ticked off the many reasons we enjoy our commune. That was it; we were on our way out the door in less than 10 minutes. As we were leaving, we were informed that a decision from the federal level should come in 2-3 months.
And then, well, Covid-19 struck and everything related to naturalization services was paused. As the months passed, we wondered how long it would be before we had news either way. I chased our mairie once, in June 2020, but alas they had no additional updates.
Finally, last week (late September 2020), a big envelope arrived in the mail. It was our citizenship paperwork!! My hands were shaking a bit as I ripped open the envelope, quickly scanning the letters inside to learn the outcome: Voilà! We are Swiss!
Due to Covid-19 precautions, all naturalization ceremonies are cancelled until further notice. In their place, a form (where you swear to uphold Swiss traditions, duties, laws, etc.) is signed and dated, mailed back to the canton, and then your citizenship is 100% official!
Interestingly, the citizenship was retroactive until July 1, 2020, despite us receiving the letter in September 2020. So we’ve been Swiss for a few months without realizing it!
In all, the process took 10 months from application to approval, and would likely have been 2-3 months shorter if not for Covid. We didn’t hire an immigration attorney, and overall we found the process much easier than expected. Officials were helpful and approachable throughout the process.
Bottom line: You can do it, too! For more details, and to get the ball rolling, stop by the OCPM in Onex.
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/