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Citizenship Geneva-based foreigners rush to meet Swiss passport deadline

Swiss passport cover

Stricter citizenship rules came into force on January 1, 2018 for people seeking Swiss nationality


Some 5,800 foreigners living in Geneva were granted Swiss citizenship in 2017 – a big jump from 2016 as applicants raced to meet the end-of-year deadline, when stricter rules came into force. Nationally, demand for Swiss passports has risen by 25% over the past three years. 

The number of new applicants living in Geneva who obtained Swiss nationality rose from 3,906 in 2016 to 5,789, the Geneva population service reported on Mondayexternal link. It explains the sharp increase by the tightening of Swiss citizenship law which came into force on January 1, 2018. In December alone, 1,700 applications were submitted in Geneva. 

+ becoming a Swiss citizen

Since the beginning of the year, foreigners applying for a Swiss passport must now hold a C residence permit and have lived in Switzerland for five or ten years, depending on their country of origin, and must attest to successful integration. They must still pass rigorous entry requirements, including a written language test.

Demand for citizenship in Geneva has risen sharply in recent years, up from 2,238 naturalisations in Geneva in 2014. This follows a national trend as shown in the graphic below. Across the country, the annual number of naturalisations (ordinary and facilitated) increased in 2017 to 45,901, up from 35,034 in 2014 – a 24% rise. 

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Graphic showing naturalisations in Switzerland

At the end of December 2017, canton Geneva had 498,221 registered inhabitants. The 500,000 milestone should be reached by June. Foreign residents represent 40% of the population, down slightly from previous years, of whom 65% come from Europe. 

Just under one million people live in the city and extended region known as Greater Geneva, or the Franco-Valdo-Genevois region, between Nyon in canton Vaud, and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, Annemasse, Meyrin, Bonneville, Thonon-les-Bains in France, and Geneva. By 2030, the region is forecast to grow by at least 200,000.


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