Government Eases Swiss Citizenship Rules

Obtaining a Swiss passport might be one of the most challenging endeavours for many immigrants, according to recent news reports the Swiss parliament will ease the process for third generation immigrants.

Eligible individuals will include foreigners 25 years of age who were born in Switzerland and have studied here for at least 5 years. Other amendments to the rule stipulate that one of the parents must be Swiss born and spent at least ten years living in Switzerland.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the recent changes, under the new law an individual can apply for a passport if he or she meets all the requirements.

Nationwide Vote

Switzerland is comprised of 26 cantons; each canton gets to decide its own citizenship rules for third generation immigrants. Nevertheless voters will now have to head to the ballot box and choose whether to approve this new rule, since this is a reform in the constitution.

A date will be decided for the vote, if voters are in favour of the law it could take effect as early as 2018. Most of the third generation immigrants in Switzerland come from neighbouring countries like Italy, Portugal and Spain.

It is mindful to consider that in 2004 Swiss voters rejected a proposal to allow third generation citizens to get Swiss citizenship at birth, at the time the plan to ease Swiss citizenship procedures for the second generation was also not ratified.

Reduced Wait

The parliament reduced the time to obtain Swiss citizenship from 12 years to 10 years; many hailed this as a remarkable feat for the Swiss government. The decision was debated for three years between the two houses for three years. The House of Representatives passed it with 135 votes for and only 60 votes against, and the Senate approved it 29 to 12.

Under the new law candidates for Swiss citizenship will only need to be residents in Switzerland for 10 years before they can apply for citizenship. As a prerequisite they will need to have a C residency permit and reside in a specific canton for at least two to five years.

Switzerland is increasingly becoming multicultural; currently around 30,000 to 40,000 people are neutralized as Swiss citizens, the numbers are expected to increase in the coming years.