Residence permit extension denied for French doctor

The Federal Administrative Court has rejected a request from a French doctor to extend his residence permit. The court ruled that as a result of previous convictions and ongoing criminal proceedings, this individual presents a real threat to public order in Switzerland, especially for those covered by national health insurance.

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The issue of whether to renew the residence permit of the French doctor was raised with the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) by the Population and Migration Office (SPM) of the canton of Valais in December 2018. SPM had submitted the permit extension for validation, in light of a conviction for a serious traffic regulations violation in 2016 and ongoing criminal proceedings opened against him. Following the SEM’s refusal to approve the residence permit extension, the doctor appealed to the Federal Administrative Court (FAC) in December 2019.

Threat to public order in Switzerland
During the course of 2015, the public prosecution’s office of the canton of Vaud opened criminal proceedings against the appellant, who had been a doctor in Switzerland since 2004, first in Montreux and also later in Geneva. In essence, he was accused of invoicing a number of services that he had not provided or charging insurance companies health insurance tariffs for services he had not performed. In late August 2020, he was convicted by the Eastern Vaud District Court of organised fraud, forgery of documents and falsifying medical certificates. He received a 36 months custodial sentence, 18 of which were suspended. A criminal expulsion order for a period of five years was also issued. The doctor has appealed against this judgment, which is currently pending before the Criminal court of appeal in the canton of Vaud.

Even if the criminal conviction is not final, the FAC nonetheless considers the August 2020 judgment to be relevant to the present case. On the one hand, in a number of aspects, the facts retained in it appear similar to those recorded in the appellant’s past convictions, which are now final and in force, and on the other hand, the doctor has partially admitted the facts. In addition, according to a psychiatric assessment carried out during the criminal investigation, the risk of the appellant re-offending is likely. The FAC considers that its decision does not conflict with the expulsion order issued by the criminal judge. Concerns for public order and safety are paramount in the field of immigration law and justify that competent administrative authorities, even while awaiting a final disposition of a criminal procedure, be able to issue removal orders to safeguard public order in Switzerland.

Overwhelming public interest
As he is currently unemployed, the doctor cannot rely on any deep-rooted professional ties in Switzerland. As far as his family are concerned, he is a divorcee and a father of one, who is now of age. He has been in a relationship with a Swiss national for seven years, but the nature of the relationship is not of such intensity that it can be considered equivalent to a marriage. The appellant cannot therefore claim a particularly thorough integration. In light of these arguments, the FAC finds that the public interest in removing the appellant, even though he is an EU national, outweighs his private interest in remaining in Switzerland.

Consequently, given the risk of re-offending and the threat that the appellant represents, the FAC considers the refusal to extend the residence permit is justified. This judgment may be appealed to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

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