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]