Man faces deportation despite living in Switzerland for 53 years

Man faces deportation despite living in Switzerland for 53 years

Despite living in the country for most of his life, a man in Canton Thurgau has been sent documents calling for his deportation. Authorities argued the man had left the country for too long and that his Swiss pension would not be enough for him to live comfortably.

Austrian citizen felt so Swiss, he didn't naturalise

Speaking to Blick, Georg Andesner, an Austrian citizen, said that he had spent all but 10 years of his life living in Switzerland. Growing up in Canton Zurich, he would go on to find a job in Switzerland and live in the alpine nation for 53 years. 

Despite living in the country for so long, the man never saw the need to naturalise and become a Swiss citizen. "In fact, I felt so Swiss that I didn't even consider it necessary," he told the newspaper. However, his story would take a turn, after he fell in love with a lady from Germany.

The former bird breeder moved to Germany to be with his partner in the 2010s. Unfortunately, as he had left the country for more than six months and did not reapply within four years, his Swiss residence permit was downgraded from a C (settlement permit) to a B (residence) permit, restricting his right to remain in Switzerland should he ever return. 

Pensioner sent deportation letter after 53 years living in Switzerland

This meant that when the relationship ended, he had to move back to the country with just a B permit. The man chose to settle in Canton Thurgau but struggled to find a job. To see if authorities would help, Andesner sent a letter to the local council (Gemeinde), asking whether there were any social services that help senior citizens join the workforce. Unfortunately, what he got back shocked him.

Instead of offering help, Canton Thurgau had sent him documents relating to his deportation from Switzerland back to Austria, a place where he has never lived. “It appears from the file that you do not have sufficient financial means to support yourself,” the migration office wrote. Bear in mind that in this case, B permits are only renewed if the person is in work or presents "sufficient financial means of support" to remain in Switzerland.

Swiss canton argues man cannot afford to live in Switzerland without assistance

Now facing retirement, and after finding and then losing his job during the COVID pandemic, the man told Blick that he has a pension of around 1.380 Swiss francs a month - “not [enough] to meet his needs,” the migration authority noted In their second deportation letter.

The authorities argued that, as he had “voluntarily resided” in Germany for several years, did not have a settlement permit, had lost his job and did not have enough money to support himself, he has no right to remain in Switzerland and should be deported.

“All my family and my friends live here, how could I leave?” Andesner asked. He has now engaged the services of a lawyer, who will argue against his deportation as Switzerland is the only country he knows. The family is expecting to hear a response in the coming weeks. When asked by Blick, the Migration Office of Canton Thurgau said they could not comment on individual cases.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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