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Migration Court rules in favour of ‘well-integrated’ foreigner

Swiss federal court in Lausanne

The Swiss federal court in Lausanne


An Argentinian man who has lived in Switzerland for ten years is allowed to stay in the country under the “right to a private life” clause in European Convention on Human Rights, the Swiss Federal Court has said.

The decision is an unusual one in that the man is a third country national - who doesn’t have the automatic right to stay in Switzerland under the country’s bilateral agreements with the European Union.

The case concerns a 41-year-old Argentine who married a German woman in 2004 and moved to be with her in Switzerland. He received a residence permit upon arrival. In 2008 the couple separated and the Zurich migration department withdrew the permit. The man later obtained residency to be with his Swiss partner, but this relationship also fell apart. The authorities again withdrew the permit. The man then protested the decision as he did not want to leave Switzerland.

He based his complaint on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rightsexternal link, the right to respect for private and family life, meaning that an individual has the right to decide over his or her private or family life. Canton Zurich administrative court rejected the appeal, arguing that since both relationships had ended there was no right to remain.

Economic interest

But the Swiss Federal Court took another view, in a ruling made public on Fridayexternal link and decided to extend the residency of the man.

Although it was in the interest of Switzerland to control migration, this was not a sufficient reason in cases of people who had already been in Switzerland for ten years and were “perfectly” integrated, the judges in Lausanne said. Depriving these people of residency would be an attack on the right to a private life, they ruled.

+ Rich foreigners ‘buy’ Swiss residency thanks to derogation

There is a public interest that Swiss firms are not deprived of highly qualified, well trained employees, the judgement added.

According to Swiss public television SRF, there have only been few rulings based on Article 8. “The judgement sets the bar higher for withdrawing residency of well-integrated people,” the article said.

In a statement, the court said that the ruling “had substantiated its practice when judging the residency rights of foreigners based solely on the Right to Private Life according to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights”. Based on the Federal Act on Foreign Nationalsexternal link, it was clear the man would have not had the right to stay, the statement added.


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