Parliament has paved the way to make it easier for third-generation immigrants to acquire a Swiss passport. Swiss voters will have the final say on the reform at the ballot box.
Eligible for the facilitated naturalisation are young foreigners up to the age of 25 who were born in Switzerland and have been to school for five years in the country. One of their parents must be Swiss-born and has to have spent at least ten years in the country. In addition, one of the grandparents must have had a resident’s permit.
If all of these conditions are met, a foreigner can apply for a passport under a legal amendment.
Wednesday’s decision by the Senate is the latest stage in eight years of debate on a proposal by a Social Democratic parliamentarian. The House of Representatives has already approved the amendments.
Until now, the 26 cantons in Switzerland were free to set their own rules for the citizenship procedure for third-generation immigrants.
Voters will decide on the issue at the ballot box, as the reform is a change in the Swiss constitution. A date for the vote is still to be set.
Most third-generation immigrants in Switzerland hail from neighbouring Italy as well as Portugal and Spain.
In 2004, voters narrowly rejected a proposal to give Swiss citizenship to third-generation foreigners at birth. At the same time, a plan to ease the citizenship procedure for the second-generation was also thrown out.
Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch with agencies