Is it illegal to marry an illegal immigrant?


People from outside Europe hardly have the opportunity to obtain a residence permit in Switzerland. As Sans-Papiers, there is practically only a hardship permit or marriage.

The law provides that illegally present migrants must leave Switzerland immediately, unless there is a "serious personal hardship". A removal order must be issued by the responsible migration office.

In the event of hardship, an individual application can be made. The authorities examine each application individually. Criteria such as length of stay in Switzerland, work, integration, school enrollment for children, health and others are important.

The authorities assume that there is no case of hardship for a stay of less than five years. An application will only be seriously examined in the event of a longer stay. In addition, the future of this individual hardship regulation is very uncertain today (2012).

Former asylum seekers who have gone into hiding have an even harder time of it: In principle, there is no possibility for a new procedure for them, not even for a hardship application.

Danger! Decisions on hardship applications are the competence of the cantons; if they are approved, the approval of the federal government must also be obtained. The authorities always decide on a hardship application at their own discretion. In addition, the hardship practice differs from canton to canton. Find out more from a counseling center.

Everyone has the right to marry. In practice, however, this is not easy for sans-papiers because they do not have a residence permit. Since the beginning of 2011, all foreign nationals wishing to marry have had to prove their legal residence in Switzerland. In addition, the registry offices are obliged to notify the migration authorities about illegal spouses. However, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that marriage in Switzerland should not be denied to sans papiers in general. This means that each individual case must be checked. The practice varies from canton to canton. Find out more about the procedure at a counseling center.

If marriage is not possible in Switzerland, you must return to your country of origin to get married there and then apply for family reunification in Switzerland or to apply for a visa for marriage preparation in Switzerland so that you can legally enter can enter Switzerland. Find out more about the procedure at a counseling center. If a marriage of convenience is suspected, the civil registry officer in Switzerland can refuse to marry.

Danger! If the spouses separate in the first three years after the marriage, there is a risk of losing their residence permit.

For years, sans-papiers in Switzerland have been fighting for collective regularization together with support groups. Some successes have been achieved: over a thousand residence permits and the right to health insurance for everyone.

In regions where the Sans-Papiers are well organized, new paths can open up. A major campaign in Geneva, for example, resulted in the canton requesting 5,000 residence permits for domestic workers from Bern in January 2005.

So get involved in the various sans-papiers collectives!