Turkish grandmother expelled from Switzerland after 40 years for failing to integrate and racking up €373,000 in social benefits

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The Swiss Federal Court dismissed her appeal against a rejected application to extend her settlement visa, claiming she had never sought employment or attempted to wean herself off benefits

A Turkish national who had been living in Switzerland for over 40 years has been expelled from the country and ordered to return home after the Swiss Federal Court ruled she had failed to integrate and lived off social welfare benefits for nearly two decades.

The woman had moved to Switzerland in 1983 at the age of 19 with her then-husband and started a family in the country. She had been subject to a settlement permit that was to be applied for and extended every five years, according to Solothurner Zeitung.

After separating from her husband in 2006, she lived on taxpayer-funded benefits for nearly 17 years from March 2006 until August 2022, receiving a total handout of over €373,000 in social welfare during that time.

After initially caring for her children, the woman never sought employment after they grew up, instead opting to continue living off the state.

When it came to applying for the latest extension to her settlement permit in July 2020, the Migration Office of the Canton of Solothurn refused her application, a decision she appealed to the Solothurn administrative court.

This appeal was rejected in May this year and the complainant further appealed to the Federal Court.

In its judgment, federal judges sided with the lower court’s decision, citing the complainant’s unwillingness to integrate as a primary factor.

“One cannot speak of successful integration into the local conditions,” the court ruled, highlighting that for nearly 17 years the woman had never made any attempts to find a job or to break away from her reliance on the state.

The Federal Court said that immigration officials had “rightly assumed that there was an important public interest in revoking the settlement permit” and noted that the complainant had “already received a large sum of social assistance money” and should not be entitled to further handouts moving forward.

“After living in Switzerland for 40 years, it will certainly not be easy for the complainant to reintegrate into her home country,” the Federal Court admitted but noted that the woman still had several ties to Turkey.

She had lived there until she was an adult and returned every year on holiday, it stated, indicating that this showed she “still connected to her home country from a linguistic and cultural perspective”.

It added that the woman was still welcome to visit Switzerland to see her children and grandchildren with ordinary tourist visas.

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