Government endorses plan to ease citizenship laws

Ruth Metzler unveiled plans to make it easier for foreigners' children to gain citizenship Keystone

Foreigners may soon find it easier to become Swiss citizens, under new laws being put forward by the government. The new measures would grant automatic citizenship to third generation immigrants, and make the process easier for the children of foreigners.

This content was published on January 31, 2001 - 14:51

The government came out in support of revising the citizenship on Wednesday following recommendations by the Federal Commission for Foreigners.

The justice minister, Ruth Metzler, said that, under the proposed new legislation, the children of immigrants born in Switzerland would receive Swiss citizenship automatically.

She said the process of becoming a citizen would also be made easier for people born to foreign parents in Switzerland, provided they had attended school in this country.

"We want to naturalise more quickly and simply those people who feel Swiss, but do not hold a Swiss passport," Metzler said.

Under the proposed law, the granting of citizenship would fall to the cantons, but they would be required to adhere to rules laid down by the federal government.

At the moment cantons, and in some cases individual communities, have the right to grant or refuse citizenship at their own discretion.

The government says it hopes the new measures will encourage more foreigners to take Swiss citizenship: around 630,000 foreigners in Switzerland are eligible but only about 20,000 per year actually become citizens.

swissinfo with agencies

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