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IMMIGRATION

Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners

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.

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

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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ZURICH

Zurich approves simplified path to Swiss citizenship

Voters in Switzerland’s most populous canton on Sunday approved a proposal which will make it easier for foreigners to get Swiss citizenship.

Zurich approves simplified path to Swiss citizenship

The vote passed with 69.1 percent support, making it the most popular of the four initiatives put to the polls. 

Around 350,000 foreigners live in Zurich, which is roughly one quarter of the population – although the percentage is as high as 50 percent in some municipalities. 

The successful proposal called for Zurich’s naturalisation process, including the citizenship exam, to be made uniform across all 162 municipalities. 

The questions in the exam will now be centralised on a cantonal level. 

The test will include 350 questions about Swiss history, tradition, politics and culture, with a focus on Zurich. 

Anyone taking the test will be given 50 questions at random and must answer at least 30 correctly to pass. 

More information about the citizenship process in Zurich can be found at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How Zurich wants to make naturalisation easier

What else was decided on Sunday? 

Voters in Zurich also decided to reject a proposal to lower the voting age to 16, with 64.1 percent saying ‘nein’ to the proposal. 

A proposal to provide for more parental leave – and even up gender imbalances between fathers and mothers – was also rejected. 

Finally, voters supported law changes which sought to enshrine Zurich’s climate change goals in the cantonal constitution. 

A detailed breakdown of the vote can be seen here. 

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