Naturalisation

Switzerland

Country Report: Naturalisation Last updated: 14/05/21

Author

Swiss Refugee Council Visit Website

Until the end of 2017, the criteria for naturalisation were the same for persons with refugee status and for persons with temporary admission status. In January 2018, the amended Federal Act on Swiss Citizenship[1] entered into force. Since then, it is necessary to have a permanent residence permit and reside in Switzerland for 10 years in order to be able to apply for citizenship, whereby the years as asylum seekers do not count.[2] This means that temporarily admitted persons must wait at least 5 years more than refugee status holders (see Long-Term Residence).

Years spent in Switzerland between the ages of 8 and 18 count as double.

The initial application is examined by the SEM, but both the canton and commune of residence have their own requirements. The SEM examines whether applicants are integrated in the Swiss way of life, are familiar with Swiss customs and traditions, comply with the Swiss rule of law, and do not endanger Switzerland’s internal or external security. In particular, this examination is based on cantonal and communal reports. If the requirements provided by federal law are satisfied, applicants are entitled to obtain a federal naturalisation permit from the SEM. Naturalisation proceeds in three stages. The cantons and communities have their own, additional residence requirements which applicants have to satisfy. Swiss citizenship is only acquired by those applicants who, after obtaining the federal naturalisation permit, have also been naturalised by their municipalities (in some places this decision is taken by a panel, in others by a popular vote of all citizens of the commune) and cantons. There is no legally protected right to being naturalised by a municipality and a canton. The fee payable also varies according to the place of residence.[3]

In 2020, 698 recognised refugees and 4 temporarily admitted persons were granted citizenship.[4]

 

 

[1]        The Act is available at: https://bit.ly/2PcBpZi.

[2]        Article 33 of the Nationality Act.

[3]        Overview on the fees for regular naturalisation is available at: https://bit.ly/2J13AH2.

[4]        Information provided by the SEM, 19 March 2021.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection