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Swiss citizenship For Members

What legal status do children born to foreign parents in Switzerland get?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
What legal status do children born to foreign parents in Switzerland get?
Being born in Switzerland doesn't make him a citizen. Photo: Pixabay

If you are planning to have a baby, or perhaps have just had one, you may be wondering what his or her legal situation in Switzerland will be.

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In case you are hoping the child will automatically be Swiss, that will not happen if both you and your spouse are foreign nationals.

In contrast to other countries, including the United States and Canada, to mention just two, the mere fact of being born in Switzerland doesn’t mean the person is considered Swiss.

If their parents were born abroad and still hold foreign passports, the child will not obtain Swiss citizenship by birth. 

The only exception to this rule is that if one or both parents are naturalised before the child is born.

This also applies if they are dual citizens — that is, they were naturalised in Switzerland, but still maintain the nationality of their home country as well.

In this case, the child will be Swiss, even though he or she could also ‘inherit’ the parents’ original citizenship, thus becoming a dual national as well.

Otherwise, they will have the same nationality as their parents and will continue to be considered as foreigners - until and unless they become naturalised themselves later on.

READ ALSO: Will Swiss-born foreigners be granted automatic citizenship?

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So what will the children’s legal status in Switzerland be?

They will have the same nationality and the same passports as their parents, and will continue to be regarded as foreigners, all the while being able to live legally in the country.

They will be eligible for the same kind of residency permit as their parents hold, and can legally remain in Switzerland for as long as the parents live here.

Can they eventually become Swiss?

After they turn 18, they can apply for citizenship, and can benefit from a fast-track (simplified) naturalisation process, as long as they have a C permit and have completed at least five years of compulsory schooling in Switzerland.

One advantage that Switzerland-born foreigners have over ‘regular’ immigrants is that fulfilling at least two citizenship requirements will be a breeze for them: that of language proficiency and integration.

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Will the law ever change to allow Switzerland-born foreigners to be Swiss from birth?

Political strides forward have been made in this direction, with left-wing MPs deploring the fact that "second-generation foreigners, who have their roots here, are often without a Swiss passport.”

So far, however, these efforts have met with opposition from right-wingers in the parliament, so no changes to the existing legislation are on the horizon in the near future.

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