Facilitated Swiss Naturalisation Part I

Facilitated naturalization, or erleichterte Einbürgerung, is most commonly sought by spouses of Swiss nationals. Children are also eligible for facilitated naturalization if their Swiss citizenship was not claimed at birth. There are lots of different rules if you are living abroad or if you are married or have a Swiss parent, so I am only going to talk about facilitated naturalization for married people living in Switzerland.

Basic requirements:

  • Lived in Switzerland for a total of five years, including the last twelve months
  • Three years married

You also need to demonstrate basic integration and prove that you don’t pose a risk to others. That means speak the local language and no criminals, please.

I originally came to Switzerland in 2007, but as I was only here for less than three months on a travel visa, I did not need to register with the local authorities, thus that time period does not count towards my five years. I “officially” moved to Switzerland with a permit on November 6, 2008… but my five years in the country was delayed because during the summer of 2009, I needed to remain outside of the country for 2.5 months while I waited for a new visa and permit to process.

Soo… with all that time traveling across the pond, my five years on paper would have been some time in December 2013. By then, Kay and I would have already been married for over three years and of course have spent the last twelve months here.

But I was a little worried because last July we were changing residences and sometimes changing towns can affect your naturalization requirements. With regular naturalization, people need to live in their town or village usually for at least 2-5 of the last years, so I made sure to check when we registered  our new address at our local Gemeindehaus.

Anything to do with bureaucracy (or should I say bureaucrazy) is wrought with confusion here. My local town’s contact person  told me that I would need to wait an entire year in my new town before applying. He told me to call him again in a year to make an appointment about our next steps. I was disheartened. That would delay my application by almost a year. It didn’t sound right either… I knew I would have to apply for facilitated naturalization directly at the federal level, so I was confused why this local man was telling me there were cantonal requirements about how long I had lived somewhere. It contradicted everything I’d read about facilitated naturalization online.

Seriously, when in doubt here, call someone else. I went to the federal level directly and the nice man from the Bundesamt für Migration told me the local guy was off his rocker and that I had it right. Five years in Switzerland, three years married, apply directly to the BfM. Do not pass go, do not collect 200, do not call the local guy again.

I asked the federal guy to send me the application form so I could prepare to send it in as soon as I had reached my accumulation of five years in Switzerland. Hoorah for not listening to bureaucrats!

Up next… I take on the application auf Deutsch.

De-Glutening the Kitchen

In February, my doctor asked that I keep eating gluten before my biopsy in order to confirm the celiac diagnosis 100%. But they faffed around for most of March faxing appointment requests so I had no idea how long I would have to keep eating gluten before a test would take place. I was annoyed when they called me the day before the appointment to tell me that the biopsy would be the very next day.

During March it seemed like all my symptoms had gotten worse. I was more bloated than ever, extremely anxious and depressed. I felt like I looked legitimately pregnant and my skin was incredibly itchy, waking me up in the night and driving me insane during the day.

I had never felt so uncomfortable in my own body before and I became self-conscious when I looked in the mirror. I felt fat and I felt ugly inside.

Kay happened to be across the world for work during these weeks which made my anxiety and depression worse. Instead of reaching out for friends, I isolated myself in my house and wandered from room to room each night reading ingredients and crying. I cried more than I had in a long, long time.

I kept hoping that this was all a bad dream and that I would wake up soon. Like many celiacs before me, I was focusing on the foods I could no longer eat. It felt like food was the enemy and that my kitchen was a source of grief instead of joy. I resolved that as soon as my biopsy was over, I would switch to gluten free and completely rid gluten from our kitchen.

Kay was totally on board for making our home a gluten-free home and honestly, it was easier to plan and clean while he was gone. Knowing that cleaning would be a very cathartic process for me, I decided to document it  with a stop motion video. I started cleaning on the Friday after my biopsy and Kay came home that Sunday evening while I was finishing up.

Cleaning the kitchen was a very emotional process where I tried to let go and accept my reality. I had researched what I needed to purge and went about removing any food containing gluten as well as all of our plastic and wooden utensils, cutting boards, plastic bowls, almost all of our tupperware, our blenders, bread machine, toaster, waffle iron, mixers, plastic measuring cups, cake pans, silicon baking forms, non-stick pans with scratches and some items too difficult to clean gluten off properly.

In between removing things, I gave literally everything in the kitchen a good scrub, including the new build cabinets which had accumulated a lot of dust and dirt in and behind them from construction settling.

Getting rid of perfectly good, albeit older kitchen items was not so difficult, but reading the ingredient labels on the food and accepting that I will no longer eat all of these things was hard. Cleaning the flour off the recipes in my recipe box was even harder.

I neatly stacked all the food and old kitchen items on the dining room table so that we could dispose, recycle or give them away later. When Kay came home, he looked through the food items with curiosity and was surprised by all the things he found. Foods we never though about gluten being in… random things from spices to soy sauce to bouillon and sprinkles. Gluten shows up seemingly everywhere.

I don’t think I have ever been more happy for him to come home from a trip. I needed him so much.

I’m glad I documented my process, because this photo says it all. It has all my hurt and pain and Kay there, holding me together and loving me all the same. It reminds me how much I love him back.

After the de-glutening I stopped crying every day. I bought fresh, safe food from the grocery to start filling the kitchen again, I explained to everyone at work that I would have some immediate diet changes and I started preparing to replace the glutened kitchenware.

It’s only been seven weeks now since I changed my diet and I’m still adjusting and still working through the mourning, denial and now intermittently the “anger stage”, but I’m happy that I have stopped crying and am trying to focus on the adventure of cooking and trying lots of new foods.