Obtaining Swiss citizenship
Swiss citizenship can be obtained through kinship, marriage, or after a long stay in the country. But the naturalization process can be lengthy and complicated at times.
This content was published on 06 Apr 2022 – 09:02 Jul, 06 Apr 2022 – 09:02
Unlike in traditional immigration countries such as the United States or Australia, a child born in Switzerland does not automatically acquire Swiss citizenship.
According to the law, a person is automatically Swiss from birth if he is the child of married parents, at least one of whom is Swiss, or a child of an unmarried Swiss mother, or a child of an unmarried Swiss father if the latter acknowledges paternity before the child reaches the age of majority. Children who are adopted abroad also acquire Swiss citizenship if one of the parents is Swiss.
Switzerland allows dual citizenship without any restrictions. However, nationals of certain countries, both men and women, may lose their original citizenship if foreign legislation does not allow them to have dual citizenship.
Many categories of people can benefit from the facilitated naturalization process, the procedures of which are simpler and faster, as only the federal government can make this decision:
A man married to a Swiss woman and a woman married to a Swiss resident of Switzerland, if their marriage has lasted for 3 years and they have resided in the country for 5 years, including a full year immediately before the date of submitting the application for naturalization.
A man married to a Swiss woman and a woman married to a Swiss resident abroad, if their marriage has lasted for 6 years and they have close relations with Switzerland (they have resided in Switzerland and are fluent in one of the national languages, etc.).
– Stateless children (Apatrade), if they have resided in Switzerland for a total of five years, including one year immediately prior to the application date.
– Children of a naturalized father or a naturalized mother, if they were minors when their father or mother applied for naturalization and started their procedures before they reached the age of 22. They must have resided in Switzerland for a total of five years, including three years immediately prior to the application date.
People who have lived in the country for at least five years and mistakenly believe they had Swiss citizenship.
– foreigners and foreign women of the third generation, i.e. persons whose grandparents were born in Switzerland and remain in the country on the basis of an ordinary residence permit; Provided that one or both parents have lived in Switzerland for at least 10 years, obtained a residence permit and completed at least 5 years of compulsory education in the country; or who were born in Switzerland, have a permanent residence permit and have completed at least 5 years of compulsory education in Switzerland.
All candidates for facilitated naturalization must demonstrate that they are “well-integrated” into society, this means for example that they must not have debts or a criminal record, and that they must be able to communicate daily in one of the national languages (required level is B1 orally and A2 in writing ) and that they did not benefit from social assistance in the three years preceding the date of applying for naturalization.
The naturalization authorities invite applicants for an interview that focuses specifically on their knowledge of Switzerland (in terms of geography, history, politics and society).
Furthermore, both men and women applicants for citizenship are expected not to jeopardize Switzerland’s internal and external security.
In this case the process is more complicated, as it passes through municipal, cantonal and federal authorities. The general rule is that anyone who has lived in Switzerland for ten years and holds a category C residence permit can apply for ordinary citizenship with their municipality or canton.
Years spent in Switzerland between the ages of 8 and 18 count double, but the actual length of stay must not be less than six years. When calculating the length of stay, the following matters are taken into account:
– Periods of stay with a Class B or Class C . permit
– Periods of stay with a legal residence card issued by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs or with a permit from category Ci
– Periods of stay with an F permit (temporary admission), but only half the length of stay is taken into account.
– Periods of stay with an N permit (linked to the asylum procedure) or an L permit (short-term residence permit) do not count.
People who live in a registered partnership with someone who holds Swiss citizenship are subject to a shorter period of residence, as they can apply for normal citizenship if they have resided in Switzerland for five years.
In addition to the above, each canton requires the person concerned to reside for a period of two to five years as a minimum in the municipality and canton concerned by his application.
The criteria that must be met to become Swiss are the same as for facilitated naturalization: to be “well-integrated”, to know Swiss customs and norms and not to endanger the country’s security.
However, requirements and procedures can vary greatly from canton to canton or even from municipality to municipality. Some authorities require written or oral naturalization tests to check the candidates’ level of knowledge of Switzerland and the region in which they reside.