Man in Switzerland has citizenship revoked due to 22-year-old mistake

Man in Switzerland has citizenship revoked due to 22-year-old mistake

A man from Winterthur, Canton Zurich, has had his appeal rejected at Switzerland’s Supreme Court after the Swiss authorities discovered he had been granted Swiss citizenship incorrectly 22 years ago. 

Swiss authorities assumed he was a citizen of Switzerland

The man in question was born in 1993 in Winterthur to a French-Swiss mother and a Lebanese father. The mother had obtained citizenship by marrying a Swiss person, but under Swiss law, children of first-generation citizens are not automatically naturalised themselves. 

The man only discovered this in 2015 when he attempted to renew his Swiss passport. Unfortunately, authorities detected that he was not in the civil register and was therefore "mistaken" as a Swiss citizen for over 22 years. After an unsuccessful application for simplified naturalisation was submitted to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), he brought the matter to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.

Swiss citizenship of 22 years was revoked due to debt

The court found that automatic citizenship could only be granted if the person would become stateless if their application was rejected, and since the man was entitled to French citizenship, he would have to apply through traditional channels. As his mother had not filed for Swiss citizenship or gone through the integration and certification process with her son, his citizenship was given in error.

In a statement, the SEM clarified that the man did fulfil the criteria to be granted citizenship, but had accrued debts of over 60.000 Swiss francs over the past six years, meaning that he could not regain his long-held, but false, citizenship. The Federal Supreme Court noted that, despite the mistake, this was ultimately the only reason why he could not get his passport back.

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...

Read more



Leave a comment