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IMMIGRATION

Third gen foreigners can become Swiss more easily from February

The grandchildren of immigrants to Switzerland will be able to access the facilitated naturalization process from February 15th, the Swiss government has said.

Third gen foreigners can become Swiss more easily from February
Photo: arnaldo.jr/Depositphotos
Third generation foreigners are those who were born in Switzerland and may have spent their lives here but do not have Swiss citizenship because their parents and grandparents did not. 
 
Until now, such people have had to apply for citizenship through the ordinary naturalization system, a lengthy and costly process. 
 
But in February last year the Swiss public voted to allow third generation foreigners to use the facilitated naturalization system, a much simpler process usually reserved for the foreign spouses and children of Swiss citizens. 
 
The referendum vote was a defeat for the populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) which had campaigned against the measure using controversial anti-Muslim posters, a move lambasted by supporters of the initiative as embarrassing and unfair.
 
Those who wish to apply for facilitated naturalization must meet strict conditions, as hashed out by parliament over years of debate.
 
A candidate must have been born in Switzerland, have completed at least five years of schooling here and have a permanent residence permit.
 
Their grandparents and parents must also meet certain conditions related to residency and schooling.
 
Applicants cannot be over 25 years of age – a proviso added in parliament over fears people could shirk their military service obligations by only applying for citizenship after that age – though those currently aged 26-35 will be able to apply if they do so in the next five years.
 
Switzerland has an estimated 25,000 third generation immigrants aged 9-25 who meet these criteria.
 
Around 60 percent of them are Italian, according to a government study.
 
Those wishing to apply can ask for an application form from the Swiss migration office by emailing [email protected]

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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