Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners

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Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
File photo: Martin Abegglen

The Swiss people will go to the polls next February to vote on whether it should be easier for third generation immigrants to become Swiss citizens.


The subject will be one of three issues to be voted on in a February referendum, news agencies reported on Wednesday.

The issue of citizenship for the grandchildren of immigrants has been the subject of intense discussions in parliament of late.

Unlike in many other countries, people born in Switzerland are not automatically granted citizenship if their parents are not Swiss, but can apply to be naturalized under certain conditions. If neither their parents nor grandparents were Swiss, they could be the third generation of a family living in the country without citizenship.

At the moment the cantons set down their own rules regarding the naturalization process for third generation foreigners, but the federal government is trying to make the it easier by revising the law at federal level.

Under the proposed revision to federal law, a third generation foreigner could be granted simplified naturalization – as opposed to the longer process of ordinary naturalization – if they were born in Switzerland, have a C permit (permanent residency) and have completed at least five years of compulsory schooling in the country.

At least one of their parents must also have a C permit, have gone through the Swiss school system, and lived in Switzerland for at least a decade.

The conditions, finally agreed upon in parliament in September, also stipulate that the applicant must prove that at least one of their grandparents was either born in Switzerland or had permanent residency.

The simplified process will only be open to those aged up to 25 years old, in an attempt to stop people from shirking their military service obligations by only applying for citizenship after that age. If the new law is approved at referendum, people aged 26-35 will have five years from the time the law comes into force to place their application.

Since the new law requires a change to the constitution it must be approved by the public before it can come into force.

The Swiss people will vote on the issue on February 12th, along with two other initiatives – a tax reform for businesses, and a project aimed at providing funding for roads.



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