Fake deportation letters being sent to expats in Switzerland, SEM warns

Fake deportation letters being sent to expats in Switzerland, SEM warns

Dozens of expats and internationals across Switzerland were left shocked this week, after they received letters implying that their residence permits had been revoked and they would soon be deported. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has assured those affected that they will not be forcing the recipients to leave, and have begun a prosecution of the person(s) responsible.

Expats in Switzerland receive fake deportation notices

According to the SEM, the fake letters started to be received by the public on Tuesday. In them, recipients were told of the “revocation” of their residence permit as of December 31, 2024, after which they would face deportation from the country. The letters were sent to dozens of people across Swiss cantons, to both B- and C-permit holders.

“We must inform you that your residence status in Switzerland will be revoked as of December 31, 2024 based on Article 10 paragraph 4d AFMP of the Bilateral 11,” the letter explained. In the letter, the so-called “valve clause” was used to explain the reason for deportation. 

For reference, the “valve clause” refers to an agreement between Switzerland and the EU, which allows the Swiss government to set annual quotas on workers who come to the country from certain EU nations, if immigration in a year from a nation exceeds 10 percent of the average of the previous three years. The clause itself has not been enforced on any country's nationals since December 2021, and only affects those immigrating to the country, not those who are already here.

Fake deportation letters looked worrying authentic

According to 20 Minuten’s Letizia Vecchio, who herself received the letter, the most worrying part was how authentic it looked. Alongside the threatening message, the paper featured the official letterhead of the SEM, a QR code and a fake personnel number.

Luckily, the SEM confirmed that the letters that were sent were fake, and those who were sent them do not face deportation at the end of the year. When asked about the extent of the fraud, SEM spokesperson Reto Kormann noted that “it affects people of different nationalities in different cantons, professional sectors and language regions.” He added that an official prosecution will now be filed, though did not disclose who the suspect(s) are.

Fake letters part of a worrying backlash against internationals, say Amnesty

With the fake letter not featuring any demands for money or information, the motives of the fraudsters remain unclear - though since only people who aren’t Swiss citizens were targeted, some have pointed towards racism. Speaking to 20 Minuten, Beat Gerber from Amnesty International said that the letters were “an extremely perfidious way” to scare non-Swiss people. 

“For years we have observed a worrying number of hate messages against foreigners on social media, in personally addressed emails and letters or in mass mailings. But such a - deceptively genuine - forgery of an official document has a new dimension,” he noted.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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