The author of this article, Zlatko Janev, is an attorney-at-law and legal counsel as well as head of the legal department at Dr. J. Bollag & Cie. AG. His main activities include advising and representing clients in the area of immigration law.
Requirements for family reunification
A person who has Swiss citizenship or a permanent residence or temporary residence permit for Switzerland can bring his or her foreign spouse to Switzerland by means of family reunification. The prerequisites are marriage, a sufficiently sized accommodation as well as a secure financial standing. Furthermore, the foreign spouse has to prove minimum knowledge of the locally spoken national language or a registration for an appropriate language course.
Children living abroad can also join their spouse, provided that special deadlines are met.
The marriage must be documented by means of a marriage certificate. For the financial circumstances, the applicant must submit salary statements for at least the last three months as well as an excerpt from the debt collection register. In addition, the applicant must provide evidence of any outstanding debts or loans and information on any social welfare payments.
For children, a birth certificate must be submitted as well as proof of custody if the other parent remains abroad. If the child is of compulsory school age, registration at a compulsory school must be arranged in due time.
The time limit for the family reunification of the spouse as well as children under the age of 12 (at the time of the application) is five years from the date of entry. For the subsequent immigration of a child older than 12 years, the deadline is one year after the applicant’s entry into Switzerland. By shortening the time limit, the authorities ensure that the child can integrate in Switzerland under the best possible conditions by starting integration in Switzerland at the youngest possible age.
Despite these principles, an application for family reunification is always individual in nature and, depending on the circumstances, the applicant or his/her family members may have to provide separate evidence. For example, there are relief measures for persons with citizenship of an EU country. Furthermore, they can make use of a so-called «ascending» family reunion, i.e. apply for family reunion for their parents under certain circumstances. In addition, the age limit for children has been simplified, i.e. children of full age up to the age of 21 can also join their parents. Persons with non-EU citizenship, on the other hand, have to take restrictions into account, for example with regard to temporary admission or a stay in Switzerland without gainful employment.
Individual counselling is recommended, which should ideally take place soon after marrying a person living abroad, after the birth of a child abroad or after the person’s entry into Switzerland. In addition to the personal decision in which country to take up residence and where to stay permanently, the subsequent legal steps should always be considered. As mentioned above, deadlines and integration criteria must be observed, whereby the Swiss authorities place great emphasis on the educational integration of the children, but also on the linguistic and financial integration of the spouses. Our legal team will be happy to advise you on all matters relating to immigration to Switzerland. Our extensive experience and regular exchanges with the authorities guarantee competent advice and, if necessary, direct representation before the competent authorities.
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