Foreigners who marry Swiss citizens to secure residency could face fines or jail terms, under new proposals put forward by the Senate, which also called for a crackdown on illegal aliens.This content was published on June 12, 2001 - 15:00
The Senate decided on Tuesday to push ahead with the changes, and not to wait for the overhaul of the asylum and residency law for foreigners.
The Senators made clear that they are not prepared to defer the issue until the introduction of the revised legislation in 2005. According to the Senate's legal commission, the number of illegal aliens and marriages has increased sharply in recent years.
The Zurich municipal registry estimates that 20 per cent of all marriages between Swiss and foreigners are contracted only to obtain residency.
The Senate suggests levying fines of up to SFr10,000 on foreigners who have entered a marriage under false pretences, or possibly jailing them for up to six months.
Illegal aliens face even tougher measures. The Senate proposed detaining people who make an asylum request after being caught without residence papers. Detention would last until their request is accepted or refused by the authorities.
The justice minister, Ruth Metzler, says she agrees with this proposal, but she would rather wait for the complete overhaul of the law before acting more severely against marriages of convenience.
The government does however believe legal loopholes allowing these marriages should soon be closed by federal court decisions.
The proposed revision will now head to the House of Representatives.
swissinfo with agencies
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