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Naturalisation still not easy for third-generation foreigners

Getting a Swiss passport can be complicated, even under a "facilitated" process for third generation foreigners. Experts recommend changes to make it easier. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Easier naturalisation for third-generation foreigners introduced in 2018 has not had high take-up, and procedures should be further eased, says a study.

This content was published on February 18, 2022 - 13:28
Keystone-SDA/jc

Since February 15, 2018, people whose grandparents came to Switzerland and who were born here have been able to benefit from a “facilitated” naturalisation process. This was widely approved by the Swiss people in a popular vote in February 2017.

However, out of 25,000 people eligible, only 1,847 had received a Swiss passport by the end of 2020, according to a press releaseExternal link on Friday by the Federal Commission on Migration (FCM). This is disappointing, says the FCM, which commissioned a study to find out why. “These people have been part of Switzerland for a long time – we need them!” commented FCM president Walter Leimgruber.

According to the two study authors from the universities of Geneva and Neuchâtel, there are still too many administrative hurdles, and the process should be further eased.

They recommend lifting the age restriction on such naturalisation applications. At present, applications must be filed before the person is 25. But many realise they would like Swiss citizenship after their training or when they are preparing to start a family, say the experts, and so this age limit does not correspond to the reality of their lives.

The study authors also recommend removing some of the bureaucratic hurdles. For example, applicants currently need to prove that their grandparents had Swiss residence permits, that their mother or father went to compulsory school in Switzerland for at least five years, and that at least one parent has lived in Switzerland for ten years, with a residence permit. This can be difficult to prove, for example if the grandparents have died.

Finally they say that local authorities need to provide potential candidates with better information and inform them in a pro-active way.

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