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Homeland Survey reveals immigrants’ close ties to places of origin

Suitcases on an airport trolley

Three-quarters of foreign residents in Switzerland visit their close relatives abroad at least once a year

(sda-ats)

Two-thirds of foreign residents in Switzerland visit their home countries at least once a year, while nine out of ten communicate once a month with relatives living back home, a survey shows. 

Migration figures released by the Federal Statistical Office (OFS) on Tuesday showed that while 67% of foreign residents in Switzerland visit their countries of origin at least once a year, this jumps to 75% for those with close relatives (brothers, sisters, parents or grandparents).

One in five regularly sends back money, the OFS added. 

In 2017, 2% of foreign residents aged 15 to 74 said they owned a house or apartment outside Switzerland where they spend several months a year.

+ Almost one in five Swiss residents has dual nationality

The OFS also looked at citizenship trends. It found that 87% of foreign residents or people classed as stateless aged 15 to 74 who have either a B (Resident foreign nationals)external link or C (Settled foreign nationals)external link residence permit have not applied for Swiss citizenship. But over half are thinking about doing so. 

The main reason given is that they feel well established and integrated in Switzerland. Those who do not want to become Swiss say they have no use for Swiss nationality, as they do not plan to stay or do not want to give up their original nationality. Some say that the naturalisation process is too expensive, complicated and much too long.

In 2017, 37% of permanent residents aged 15 and over – 2.6 million people - had foreign roots. More than one-third of them – almost one million - also have Swiss nationality.

The foreign nationalities that are best represented are Italian (for men) and German (for women). Then come nationals of Portugal, France, Kosovo, Spain, Turkey, Serbia and Macedonia. 

Residents with a migration background feature heavily in the 25-50 age group, with an average age of 44. They live mostly in cantons Geneva (60%+ of residents), Ticino, Basel City, Vaud, Schaffhausen and Zurich. 

In cantons Obwalden, Nidwalden, Appenzell Inner Rhodes and Uri, 80% of residents have no migration background. 

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