A new civil rights act has come into force in Switzerland that prevents residents who have been on welfare in the past three years from becoming citizens unless they pay back the money they received to the state.
The new regulations will make it impossible for asylum seekers and migrants who have lived off state handouts in the last three years to become citizens even if they have lived in Switzerland as permanent residents for the required time to make a citizenship application, Kronen Zeitung reports.
The previous law allowed migrants to apply for citizenship as long as they were not on state benefits at the time of their application.
Along with the welfare stipulation, the new act requires migrants to demonstrate a greater level of integration than before including making them prove they have a certain number of Swiss friends and acquaintances.
Language requirements vary by canton with most expecting an intermediate level of language proficiency judged on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) at the B1 or B2 level.
While Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, asylum seekers have attempted to flood into the country through the southern Italian border. While many have used Switzerland as a transit country to reach Germany, others have remained in the Alpine state.
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