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SWISS CITIZENSHIP

Third generation fast-track naturalisation in Switzerland: What you need to know

Many people in Switzerland are eligible for third generation fast-track naturalisation but are unaware. Here's what you need to know.

A red Swiss passport up close
A Swiss biometric passport. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

According to a report published by the Federal Commission of Migration on April 8th, one quarter of the Swiss resident population do not vote because they do not have the nationality.

Almost 350,000 people are foreigners born in Switzerland and approximately 35,000 belong to third generation families established in Switzerland.

Walter Leimgruber, President of the Federal Commission of Migration, hopes that many young people will take advantage of this transitional period.

He believes it would be a benefit for Switzerland to have more people, well integrated into Swiss society, participating actively in debates and political decisions.

EXPLAINED: How to fast track permanent residency in Switzerland

Swiss naturalisation

Swiss naturalisation procedure is either ordinary i.e. takes 1-2 years – or is fast-track / facilitated – which takes a maximum of one year. (Covid delays within cantonal immigration offices need to be taken into consideration).

As a general rule – fast-track naturalisation is for those who are “entitled” to naturalisation subject to all material conditions being fulfilled (absence of criminal record, residence in Switzerland etc.) whereas as ordinary naturalisation is for those whose naturalisation depends on the discretion of the authorities.

Due to the complexity of the conditions, this article will not explain all the formal and material conditions for naturalisation.

Fast-track naturalisation

There are several options for fast-track naturalisation under the Swiss federal law on nationality. This article only concerns one of the options – third generation naturalisation – available for certain people till 18th February 2023.

The conditions for third generation fast-track naturalisation are provided by article 24a of the Swiss federal law on nationality:

Since February 2018, foreigners under the age of 25, whose grandparents were already established in Switzerland, can request fast-track naturalisation. (Articles 24a LN and 15a OLN).

A child of foreign parents may, on application, be granted facilitated naturalisation 

if the following conditions are met 

  1. at least one of the grandparents was born in Switzerland or it can be plausibly established that the grandparent had a B, C, L or A permit or a carte de Legitimation in Switzerland. 
  2. at least one of the parents had a C permit, had lived in Switzerland for at least 10 years and had completed at least five years of compulsory schooling (i.e. primary and middle school) in Switzerland; 
  3. He was born in Switzerland; 
  4. He has a C permit and has completed at least five years of compulsory schooling (i.e. primary and middle school) in Switzerland. 

2 The application must be submitted before the age of 25. 

3 A naturalised child acquires the citizenship of the commune of residence and the canton of residence that is his at the time of naturalisation.

The transitional provision – article 51a LN, provides that:

Third-generation foreigners who, on 15 February 2018, had reached the age of 25 but had not yet celebrated their 35th birthday; and

Who fulfil the conditions of article 24a LN ( and other material conditions of the Swiss federal law on nationality), can therefore apply for fast-track naturalisation until 15 February 2023 at the latest, provided they have not yet reached the age of 40 at the time of the application.

To recap

Did your grandparents live in Switzerland?

Did your parents live in Switzerland?

Are you under 40 and living in Switzerland?

If yes, you may be eligible for third generation fast-track naturalisation.

The information in this article was prepared by Renuka Cavadini of Page & Partners. 

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SWISS CITIZENSHIP

Switzerland revokes citizenship for ‘unfair and deceptive behaviour’

A woman who gained a Swiss passport through marriage has had her citizenship revoked after she divorced - just one of the reasons that Swiss nationality can be removed from foreigners.

Switzerland revokes citizenship for ‘unfair and deceptive behaviour’

Married in 2010 to a Swiss man 15 years her senior, a Moroccan woman became naturalised through the facilitated process in 2015, but separated from her husband just months later.

As soon as the couple divorced in 2017, the woman remarried in Lebanon, raising suspicions among Swiss authorities about the ulterior motives behind her marriage in Switzerland.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why ‘simplified’ Swiss naturalisation is actually not that simple

According to media reports on Monday, “after inquiring into the circumstances of the couple’s breakup” and concluding that the woman married expressly to get a Swiss passport,  the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) revoked her naturalisation.

She appealed the decision, first to an administrative court, and then to Switzerland’s highest judicial authority, the Federal Court. Both have upheld SEM’s decision.

“The SEM may cancel the facilitated naturalisation obtained by false statements or by the concealment of essential facts”, the federal judge ruled, adding that the woman obtained her citizenship through “disloyal and deceptive behaviour”.

While this may seem like a rare occurrence, in fact it is not.

On average, SEM revokes close to 50 naturalisations each year following a divorce.

But there are also other circumstances when the government can strip someone of Swiss citizenship.

As The Local reported earlier in 2022, “dual nationals can have their Swiss citizenship revoked if their conduct is seriously detrimental to Switzerland’s interests or reputation”.

One example of when such a drastic and irrevocable step can be taken is in the case of people convicted of war crimes, terrorism, or treason.

Between 1940 and 1947, 80 Swiss nationals were deprived of their citizenship because they collaborated with the Nazis.

More recently, in 2019, a Turkish-Swiss dual national lost his Swiss citizenship after being convicted by the Federal Criminal Court for being a member of Islamic State (ISIS).

The last such case, in 2020, involves a woman who was born and raised in Geneva but also has a French passport in addition to a Swiss one. She took her two young daughters to live in the ISIS enclave in Syria without the knowledge of their respective fathers.

In both these cases, authorities revoked their citizenship, banning them from returning to Switzerland and possibly posing a security threat within the country.

Whatever the reason for withdrawing the citizenship, it can only be done if the person has a second nationality. Otherwise, Switzerland would create stateless people, an act prohibited by international law.

And while in certain cases the citizenship can be reinstated, you can’t get it back if your naturalisation has been nullified or if your citizenship has been revoked, for reasons cited above.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Can Swiss citizenship be revoked – and can you get it back?
 

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