Switzerland’s federal, cantonal and local governments are taking action to identify abusive applications for residence permits. A project in the city of Bern has found that out of 850 applications inspected, around 10% had signs of using counterfeit documents.
“In most cases, this involves citizens from third states, for whom visas are required,” according to Alexander Ott, head of the city of Bern’s office of resident services and foreign police. Involved are countries such as Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Turkey, Russia, China, and Brazil.
Not only passports but also tenancy and employment contracts are falsified, Ott said in an article published on Sunday in the weekly newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.
In addition, some documents are in fact legitimate, but have been stolen from their owners.
Representatives of other migration offices have similar experiences with falsified documents, the article reported. Turkish citizens and ethnic Albanians present in Switzerland with falsified Italian identity cards, and Brazilians present stolen papers from Portugal.
According to Ott, counterfeiting has increased, and the counterfeiters have become more technically proficient. This has made it more and more difficult to identify falsified documents.
To fight this trend – and other problems, including illegal migration, human smuggling, and intercontinental criminal behaviour – the Swiss government instituted a programme called “Integrated border management”.
Since the beginning of 2016, the programme has organised events and meetings to inform the responsible government officials about the abuses in the application process and what is being done to counter them.
swissinfo.ch and agencies