Trilingual Brit expat refused Swiss citizenship for not knowing melted cheese origin

Published:  5 Jun at 6 PM
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43-year old David Lewis has lived in Switzerland since he was a baby, is totally fluent in French and German as well as his native language and now owns a thriving café business in Zurich.

He’s also raising his six-year old son and has no criminal record. In spite of his obvious qualifications for Swiss citizenship, his application was refused as he couldn’t give an exact answer as to the canton in which a melted cheese was produced, although he got the region right. He also couldn’t identify a traditional Swiss chard dish from the country’s Romansh-speaking region.

After his refusal, Lewis told reporters from a German newspaper he admits he’s not perfect, but pointed out he’d passed the written exam easily, adding he’d spent most of his life integrating as a local rather than as an expat. He said he was confused by the detailed questions during the naturalisation interview as it resembled an oral examination.

He’d been told to bring his son to the interview, at which the six-year old was also asked a number of questions. The report of his application given out by his local community stated Lewis was ‘not familiar enough with Swiss traditions and customs’ and the authority declined to comment further on the case when asked.

Lewis is now wondering exactly what more he could have done to convince the local community heads of his desire to become a Swiss national. I’m not, he said, able to provide absolute perfection, which seems to be what they want. He’s also concerned about how to explain to his boy that he’s not yet a Swiss child, and is planning to reapply again in the hope that he’ll be better prepared for illogical questions about Swiss cuisine.
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