Our core business is obtaining work permits for management transfers as well as for other foreign expatriates and other employees who want to work in Switzerland. However, a good majority of this population comes accompanied by the family to Switzerland. For all 3 main groups (EU/EFTA, third country nationals, and Swiss), in principle, the reunification of spouses is not a challenge, even if the reunification periods are sometimes very short. When it comes to relatives in the ascending line, i.e. parents, grandparents, parents-in-law, the legal basis is different for all 3 main groups.

Due to upcoming changes in the context of the new parliamentary initiative in Switzerland concerning the equality of Swiss citizens with EU/EFTA citizens when it comes to relatives in the ascending line, the compilation of these 3 case studies from our practice is a necessity for the understanding of the current situation in Switzerland.

Case Study No. 1: Applicant is EU/EFTA citizen, father is Indian.

Mr. Singh has Italian citizenship and has been living in Switzerland for several years. He is in possession of a C permanent permit. After the death of his mother in India, Mr. Singh wishes his father, about 73 years old, to move indefinitely to Switzerland to join his eldest son Mr. Singh. Mr. Singh works for a well-known company and earns over 120'000 CHF per year. He lives with his wife and 2 children in a 4.5 room condo. Mr. Singh Senior suffers from health problems and is unable to perform the normal tasks of daily living.

Legal basis and procedure:

  • Art 3, Annex I, Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and the EU grants Mr. Singh the right to family reunification with his Indian father, even if he is a third country national living in India. Mr. Singh must simply have an apartment that meets his needs.
  • Application with usual documents must be submitted to the relevant Office for Migration. In particular, the certificate of the home country regarding kinship and the neediness of relatives who are granted maintenance must be proven. The neediness must have existed before the application. The financial means of the applicant must also be presented.
  • In most cases, after the documents have been checked, the person to be immigrated is asked to register with the resident's registration office and a residence permit is issued after the biometric data has been submitted. There is no decision in paper form.

Excursus: If Mr. Singh were a third-country national, the father would have to provide proof of language proficiency at level A1 of the official cantonal language of the relevant canton or provide confirmation of a language course. At the next renewal, Mr. Singh Senior would have to present a recognized language diploma.

Case study No. 2: Applicant is a third-country national, mother lives in Pakistan

Ms. Iman, a Pakistani citizen, has been living in Switzerland with a Settlement Permit C for over 20 years. Her mother, about 80 years old, lives alone in Pakistan. She has no income of her own but is supported by her daughter from Switzerland. Her assets consist only of her apartment. Ms. Iman works in a leading position and earns 140'000 CHF annually. For the support of her mother in Switzerland, she has a special fund with a starting amount of 30'000 CHF as a guarantee for the first issuance of her mother's residence permit.

Legal basis and procedure:

  • Iman, as a third-country national, cannot derive a legal claim to the granting of the requested entry permit, neither on the basis of an international treaty nor from other legal provisions. From a legal point of view, this application is treated in the context of an unemployed residence with the daughter. The necessary financial means, the minimum age of 55 years as well as special personal relations to Switzerland would have to be given.
  • The list of documents is very long and mainly refers to the proof of the degree of relationship, the neediness including asset situation, various documents concerning health insurance offer, declaration of commitment, employer's confirmation of the daughter, wage statements, etc.
  • These cases are generally rejected due to the lack of a relationship with Switzerland. Even if all other aspects are fulfilled, vacation visits which are proven by means of photos since the daughter's stay in Switzerland do not fulfill the close relationship to Switzerland. Independent relationships of a socio-cultural or personal nature, independent of the relatives, are required, such as connections to the local community, participation in cultural events or direct contacts with the local population. During the visits to reunite with her daughter, even though she attended various cultural events during this time, the mother (does /) did not establish any in-depth relationships with the local community according to continuous practice.

Case Study #3: Applicant is Swiss, Father is from the U.S.

Mr. Snowhite was born in Switzerland and acquired Swiss citizenship through his mother. His father, Mr. Forster has been living in the USA since the separation, but contact has always continued. Now Mr. Snowhite wants his father to be with him in Switzerland during the last years of his father's life.

Legal basis and procedure:

  • The reunification of family members by Swiss citizens is only possible if they reside in an EU or EFTA country. Exceptions are only permitted in cases of hardship. Under these circumstances, Mr. Forster does not qualify as a case of hardship, which is the case when there are humanitarian reasons for the stay of labor immigrants who have become ill or disabled in Switzerland.

This discrimination against nationals should be abolished with the new parliamentary initiative. While the Federal Council has agreed to this initiative, there are surprisingly some cantons (Glarus, Lucerne, Nidwalden, Solothurn, and Zug) as well as the political party SVP, which reject this initiative. Until the text of the final bill stands, it will take some considerable time.

More information about the parliamentary initiative can be found at https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/de/home/sem/medien/mm.msg-id-97418.html

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.