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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

QUIZ: Would you pass Zurich’s Swiss citizenship test?

Zurich, Switzerland's most populous canton, is standardising its test for Swiss citizenship. Think you could pass it?

QUIZ: Would you pass Zurich’s Swiss citizenship test?

Voters in the Swiss canton of Zurich on May 15th approved a proposal to simplify naturalisation requirements for the canton’s 350,000 foreigners. 

Zurich, Switzerland’s most populous canton, has 162 municipalities. While it might be a slight exaggeration to say there are 162 unique tests, the questions can vary greatly. 

Naturalisation: How well must I speak a Swiss language for citizenship?

The May 15th vote standardised the process by establishing a standardised knowledge test for the entire canton.

This means that the test will be drawn from the same questions regardless of whether you live in Adlikon bei Andelfingen or Zumikon. 

Whether you’ve just arrived in Zurich or you’re a long-time Swiss citizen, this set of cantonal naturalisation test questions gives you a chance to see how well you’d do. 

How does the naturalisation test work? 

The test includes 350 questions about Swiss history, tradition, politics and culture, with a focus on Zurich.

Anyone taking the test will be given 50 questions at random and must answer at least 30 correctly to pass.

While the test will be standardised – as in, the 50 questions will be drawn from the same 350 across the canton – there will be questions directed at municipal, cantonal and federal issues. 

The test will be in German, although the canton promises that it will take place in ‘plain language’. 

More information about the new requirements is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How Zurich has simplified the Swiss citizenship process

Would you pass Zurich’s citizenship test?

With the decision to standardise the test only given public approval in May – and with things taking a little while in Switzerland generally – as at June 30th the canton-wide test has not yet been put in place. 

The Zurich government website indicates final work is being done to ensure the test is appropriate. 

READ MORE: The ten most surprising questions on Switzerland’s citizenship exam

A number of questions have however been released. The test is in multiple choice format, with applicants being given three or four options for most questions. 

The following are translated versions of some of the questions which are actually included on the test. 

As you can see, many relate to Switzerland federally and do not have specific relevance to Zurich. 

To take the test on the Zurich cantonal website – and for more information – click here. 

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