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Zurich sees spike in naturalisation requests

Italian passport being swapped for Swiss one
Many Italians were among those seeking a Swiss passport Keystone

The city of Zurich says it has seen a much higher demand for Swiss citizenship requests after the administration sent a – in some quarters controversial - letter to all eligible foreigners urging them to become citizens before criteria became stricter.

Between May 2017 and March 2018, there were around 2,900 more requests. This is 65% more than the same period the previous year. But it is not possible to say yet if many will result in citizenship, as they are still being processed, a city of Zurich statementExternal link said.

City mayor Corine Mauch told Swiss public radio SRFExternal link that officials had been surprised by just how large the impact had been – the letter, which was sent out in spring 2017 to 40,000 people, was meant as a gesture of appreciation.

The conservative right Swiss People’s Party has once again criticised the letter as legally questionable. The city of Zurich’s government is majority left-leaning.

Every third resident of Zurich currently holds a foreign passport, compared to a quarter of the population nationwide. From January 1, 2018, the citizenship law changed.

The minimum period of residency for standard naturalisations fell from 12 years to 10, but applicants now need to prove language proficiency and stay in one canton for a set period of time. Only holders of the long-term C residency permit are allowed to apply.

+ Read more on the naturalisation process

In 2017, 3,397 foreigners from the city of Zurich received Swiss citizenship – 645 more than last year. They came from 112 different countries, with the most coming from Germany, Italy and Turkey, the city of Zurich statement said.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR