Last year 36,161 people became Swiss citizens, a 3% increase on 2012. The biggest jump was seen among naturalisations from France (+42%), according to an annual report by the Federal Office for Migration.
The Migration Report 2013external link, published on Thursday, revealed that around two-thirds of people acquired Swiss citizenship through the standard naturalisation procedure – around 4% fewer than in 2012 – and a third through the fast-track naturalisation procedure (+23%); 148 people were renaturalised (+26%), having previously given up their Swiss passport.
In recent years newly naturalised Swiss citizens have come mainly from Italy, Germany, Kosovo, Serbia, France, Portugal and Turkey. A total of 4,665 Italian nationals (+12%), 3,925 German nationals (+14%), 2,641 people from Kosovo and 2,553 from Serbia (-14% taken together) were granted Swiss citizenship.
The report also revealed that the number of asylum applications made decreased in 2013 by around 25% compared with the previous year, reaching 21,465.
Of the 23,966 asylum applications handled at first instance in 2013, 3,167 people were granted asylum. This corresponds to an approval rate of 15.4%.
With 2,563 asylum applications, Eritrea was once again the main country of origin. However, the number of asylum applications submitted by Eritrean nationals fell considerably. In addition, 791 applications related to infants.
Switzerland is no longer the main country of destination for Eritrean asylum seekers in Europe. Sweden, Germany and Norway all received more asylum applications from this group than Switzerland.
Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, asylum applications from Syrian nationals increased. On September 4, 2013, the Federal Department of Justice and Police ordered the easing of visa requirements for Syrian nationals with relatives living in Switzerland. This directive was lifted on November 29. By the end of the year, 692 asylum applications had come from Syrians who had travelled to Switzerland on a short-term visa.
The fall in the number of asylum applications from Nigeria and Tunisia was the result of the fast-track procedure introduced in April 2013 for the processing of asylum applications from citizens of these countries.
Asylum applications from citizens of other countries also declined substantially: Serbia at 303 (1,586 fewer), Macedonia at 115 (1,022 fewer), Bosnia and Herzegovina at 221 (294 fewer) and Somalia at 604 (204 fewer).
swissinfo.ch and agencies