The number of people who became Swiss citizens in 2012 dropped seven per cent over the previous year, according to the latest numbers from the Federal Migration Office, continuing a trend toward fewer naturalisations.
Also as in past years, the largest number of those naturalised in 2012 came from Italy, followed by Kosovo and Portugal. The number of Serbians who became Swiss declined 21 per cent over the previous year.
Fewer people also put in applications for naturalisation, a number that’s been on the decline since 2009. In 2008, a record 35,000 people applied for citizenship; in 2012, it was 24,806.
According to the migration office, this trend can be attributed to the fact that many cantons recently implemented stricter requirements for naturalisation.
Of those who became Swiss citizens in 2012, 26,221 did so through an ordinary application process, while 8,718 made use of the government’s fast-track naturalisation process. A further 117 people obtained citizenship through repatriation.
To qualify for citizenship, immigrants must have generally lived in Switzerland for 12 years, but requirements for how long a person has to have lived in a commune before applying vary. There is also an expedited process for spouses of Swiss citizens, but again, specific requirements differ by canton and situation.
Applicants are required to be integrated in the Swiss way of life, familiar with Swiss customs and traditions, in compliance with the Swiss rule of law, and to represent no danger to Switzerland's internal or external security.
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