The Swiss citizenship ( Swiss High German and Swiss citizenship written French nationalité suisse, Italian Cittadinanza Svizzera, Romansh Burgais Svizzer ) refers to the legal affiliation of a natural person to the Swiss Confederation , so the Swiss citizenship .
Relationship to cantonal and communal citizenship law
According to Art. 37 para. 1 of the Federal Constitution, Swiss citizenship cannot be acquired without simultaneously acquiring the citizenship of a municipality and the citizenship of the canton . The various civil rights - that is, municipal and cantonal citizenship - can only be obtained for foreigners together; conditional assurances are possible, however. Municipal and cantonal citizenship law convey Swiss citizenship law. Article 38, Paragraph 2 of the Federal Constitution stipulates that the federal government defines minimum requirements for the naturalization of foreigners by the cantons.
The municipality whose (municipality) citizenship a Swiss person has is called the place of origin (also called the place of origin). This is of little importance in practice today. The domicile of a Swiss citizen is decisive for exercising political rights and not his or her cantonal or communal citizenship.
Swiss citizenship is acquired either by law or through naturalization.
Acquisition by law
When acquiring by law, all persons who meet certain requirements automatically receive citizenship. The main principle is the ius sanguinis , according to which the origin and not the place of birth is decisive for citizenship.
The legitimate child of a Swiss citizen and the illegitimate child of a Swiss citizen acquire Swiss citizenship by law at birth (Art. 1 Para. 1 BüG). Likewise, the illegitimate child of a Swiss father acquires Swiss citizenship “as if the acquisition had taken place at birth” through the acknowledgment of paternity (Art. 1 Par. 2 BüG). An underage foreign child who is adopted by a Swiss citizen also acquires Swiss citizenship (Art. 4 BüG).
According to Article 3 BüG, a child of unknown origin ( foundling ) found in Switzerland also receives Swiss citizenship. However, this is lost again if a nationality is determined by parentage during the minor and the child does not become stateless as a result.
When acquiring citizenship through naturalization , a distinction is made between ordinary and facilitated naturalization. The naturalized person does not have to give up his or her original citizenship; Multiple citizenship has been possible without restriction under Swiss law since 1992. Since 2006, only cost-covering fees may be charged for naturalization; previously, cantons and municipalities often made the fee dependent on the applicant's income and assets in the ordinary naturalization process and, in certain cases, for male applicants on the previously saved military compulsory compensation.
In Switzerland, ordinary naturalization is generally not carried out by the federal government, but by a municipality by granting municipal citizenship. In doing so, the federal government checks in advance whether the minimum requirements it has issued have been met; the latter then issues a naturalization permit for a limited space and time. The provisions of the canton and the municipality then apply.
At federal level, it is required that the applicant has lived in Switzerland for a total of ten years, three of them in the last five years prior to submitting the naturalization application. The time during which the applicant has lived in Switzerland between the ages of 8 and 18 is counted twice (Art. 9 BüG). Reduced deadlines apply to people who have been in a registered partnership with a Swiss citizen for three years . live as a Swiss citizen. In this case, you are required to be resident in Switzerland for five years, including one year immediately prior to the application (Art. 10 BüG).
The federal government also requires that the applicant is successfully integrated and familiar with the Swiss way of life and that Switzerland's internal and external security is not endangered (Art. 11 BüG). Successful integration is particularly evident in observing public safety and order, in respecting the values of the Federal Constitution, in the ability to communicate in spoken and written language in everyday life, in participating in business life or in acquiring education and in promoting and supporting the integration of the wife or husband, the registered partner or the minor children over whom parental custody is exercised (Art. 12 BüG). The canton of residence and, if provided by cantonal law, the municipality of residence check whether these requirements are met and forward the application to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), which issues the federal naturalization permit if all the formal and material requirements are met (Art. 13 BüG).
The cantons can stipulate further integration criteria (Art. 12 Para. 3 BüG). The requirements that the cantons and communes make are very different. However, the differences are increasingly being offset by federal law.
In addition to the requirements under federal law, the canton of Schwyz, for example, requires impeccable repute and residence for five of the last ten years in a Schwyzer municipality. In the canton of Graubünden , among other things, familiarity with a cantonal language and a secure livelihood are required. At the community level, inclusion and a good knowledge of the language are usually required. In addition, a candidate must have lived for a minimum period - usually without interruption - in the municipality (and / or canton) concerned: As a rule, it is two to five years, but there are exceptions, such as in the canton of Geneva , where there is only one There is a minimum duration for the canton (2 years, 12 months of which prior to the application) and none for the municipality concerned.
Depending on the municipality, a special naturalization commission, the municipal executive or the municipal legislature carry out the naturalization act. The applicant can be subjected to an oral survey so that the authority knows about the language skills and the integration into the community of residence. Other municipalities send those wishing to be naturalized to take written tests on language and local knowledge, history and civic knowledge.
Again and again applicants were rejected by the community assembly because they came from a certain country. An example was the case of Emmen , in which twelve Italians were naturalized, 38 ex-Yugoslavs and some Poles were not. Rejected foreigners then took legal action before the Federal Court , which ruled in 2003 that the provisions of the Federal Constitution such as the ban on arbitrariness , the ban on discrimination and the right to be heard must be observed in the case of naturalization . As a result, the law was also adapted: The rejection of a naturalization application must be justified (Art. 16 BüG). Thus, the unfounded, anonymous voting in the municipal legislature on naturalization issues is unconstitutional.
The simplified naturalization is carried out directly by the federal authority - the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). The canton is consulted beforehand (Art. 25 BüG). The same material requirements apply to facilitated naturalization as to ordinary naturalization (Art. 11, 12 and 26 BüG).
An application for simplified naturalization can be submitted (Art. 21–24a BüG):
- the husband or wife of a Swiss citizen. To do this, the applicant must have lived in Switzerland for a total of five years, spent the last year in Switzerland and lived in marital union with the Swiss citizen for three years.
- the husband or wife of a Swiss abroad . For this purpose, the applicant must have lived in a marital union with the Swiss citizen for six years and have close ties to Switzerland.
- a stateless child who lived in Switzerland for a total of five years and spent the last year in Switzerland.
- Anyone who assumed in good faith to be a Swiss citizen for five years and was treated as such by cantonal or communal authorities during this time.
- a foreign child who was not included in the naturalization of one of the parents. To do this, they must not have reached the age of 22 at the time of the application, they must have lived in Switzerland for a total of five years and have spent the last three years in Switzerland.
A third generation foreigner can apply for simplified naturalization up to their 25th birthday. You must be born in Switzerland, have a permanent residence permit and have attended compulsory school in Switzerland for at least five years. One parent must have acquired a permanent residence permit, have resided in Switzerland for at least ten years and attended compulsory schooling in Switzerland for at least five years. A grandparent must have been born in Switzerland or it must be credible that he has acquired a right of residence. This regulation, which came into force on February 15, 2018, is the result of the adoption of the amendment to Article 38 of the Federal Constitution with a new paragraph 3 in the referendum on February 12, 2017.
The Federal Office will decide on re-naturalization after hearing the cantons (Art. 29 BüG). Anyone who has lost Swiss citizenship can apply for re-naturalization within ten years; After the deadline, a three-year stay in Switzerland is required (Art. 27 BüG). The same material requirements apply as for ordinary naturalization (Art. 11, 12 and 26 BüG). The re-naturalization application can also be submitted if he or she is domiciled abroad if he or she is “closely connected to Switzerland” (Art. 26 Para. 1 lit. b BüG) e.
The loss of Swiss citizenship can occur in different ways:
- A Swiss child born abroad forfeits his or her Swiss citizenship if he or she has another citizenship and has not been registered with a Swiss authority by the age of 25 (Art. 7 BüG).
- Dual citizens living abroad can be relieved of their Swiss citizenship at their own request if they have another citizenship or if this is guaranteed to them (Art. 37 BüG).
- If a naturalization is obtained through false information or by concealing important facts, the naturalization can be declared null and void within eight years (Art. 36 BüG).
- Swiss citizenship can be withdrawn from a dual citizen if his “conduct is seriously detrimental to the interests or reputation of Switzerland” (Art. 42 BüG, Art. 30 BüV ). However, this measure is only possible in the case of serious crimes, for example war criminals , and requires a final conviction if this is possible. In 2019, the State Secretariat for Migration withdrew Swiss citizenship from a dual citizen for the first time because the jihadist had carried out propaganda and recruited fighters for an Islamist terrorist organization.
- If the child relationship with the Swiss parent is terminated, the child loses Swiss citizenship, provided that it does not become stateless (Art. 5 BüG).
- If a minor child is adopted by a foreigner, Swiss citizenship is lost if it thereby acquires another citizenship or already has one and there is no longer any child relationship with a Swiss citizen (Art. 6 BüG).
Rights and obligations
Swiss citizenship creates rights and obligations. The rights primarily include political rights , i.e. participation in elections and votes as well as the signing of referendums and popular initiatives ( Art. 39 , Art. 136 BV), provided they are 18 years of age and there is no incapacitation due to mental illness or mental weakness . Further rights include the right to consular and diplomatic protection abroad ( 3rd title of the Swiss Abroad Act ), freedom of establishment ( Art. 24 BV) and the ban on deportation and extradition ( Art. 25 BV: extradition only with the consent of the person concerned).
On the other hand, Swiss citizenship establishes, among other things, compulsory military service ( Art. 59 BV) for men, with the possibility of alternative civilian service under certain conditions , and the prohibition of service in a foreign army (Art. 94 of the Military Penal Act). The exception is, according to the Federal Council decision of February 15, 1929, service in the Pontifical Swiss Guard . In addition, Swiss citizens are Schaffhausen obliged to participate in cantonal elections (voting and election duty ).
General Swiss citizenship was first enshrined in the Helvetian constitution of 1798, based on the French model. The federal contract already but 1815 saw this no longer present, some cantons secured in concordats but mutually its citizens freedom to grant.
The Federal Constitution of 1848 declared all canton citizens to be Swiss citizens. However, it was up to the cantons to determine the conditions for acquiring and losing citizenship. At first only men of Christian denomination were legally equated throughout Switzerland, the (male) Jews followed in 1867. With the new federal constitution of 1874, the federal government was given the supervision of naturalizations, and in 1888 it was also given the authority to regulate citizenship for reasons of family law.
In the Federal Constitution of 1848 it was expressly stated that Swiss citizenship cannot be withdrawn (Art. 43: «No canton may declare a citizen forfeited their citizenship»). However, this contradicted the legal practice that every Swiss woman who married a foreigner lost her Swiss citizenship. In addition, the partial revision of the Federal Constitution of 1928 made further expatriation possible. In the course of the power of attorney during the Second World War, two Federal Council resolutions were passed in 1941 and 1943, which were in force until 1947. This allowed Swiss citizenship to be withdrawn because of “non-Swiss” behavior.
The Homeless Act of 1850 laid the basis for the formal legal integration of the homeless into society. In the first half of the 19th century, thousands of "homeless" lived in what is now Switzerland; People who were not citizens of any municipality or corporation. Most of them have already lost their ancestors' rights; Reasons for this were lack of money, a "dissolute lifestyle", births out of wedlock, illegal marriages or denominational conversions . The smaller group concerned the travelers . Homeless people were not allowed to settle anywhere and therefore moved from place to place. They were not allowed to marry legally and were excluded from municipal welfare. They lived in abject poverty. Between 1850 and 1878 around 30,000 people were forcibly naturalized, some of them against the resistance of the affected communities. However, the law also aimed to make the traveling lifestyles disappear. A large part of the new citizens or their descendants were able to free themselves from their unfortunate situation and integrated themselves into bourgeois society. Some of the travelers evaded assimilation and continued their life on the country road.
Since the end of the 19th century, as in other European countries, there has been a debate about and the “fight against foreign infiltration”. In 1952 (entry into force: January 1, 1953) the Federal Act on Acquisition and Loss of Swiss Citizenship (Citizenship Act) was passed by the competent federal councils. If a Swiss woman had previously lost her citizenship by marrying a non-Swiss citizen, she could keep it again if she made a corresponding declaration before or during the marriage. At the same time, women who had lost their Swiss citizenship due to their marriage to a non-Swiss citizen were given their citizenship back on request, which in the years from 1953 onwards led to a large number of native Swiss women being re-naturalized. There have always been cases in which expatriated Swiss women were deported to their husbands' often foreign country because of poverty or illness. In some documented cases, the women were murdered in Nazi concentration camps.
Several popular initiatives on immigration policy in Switzerland, the so-called Schwarzenbach initiatives, which also provided for provisions on naturalization, failed in referendums in the 1970s. In 1970 and 1977, for example, the initiatives that warned against “ foreign infiltration ” and too easy naturalization and therefore wanted to handle them more restrictively were rejected . The 1970 initiative wanted to stipulate in the constitution that only one “single measure to reduce the proportion of foreigners” should be permissible, namely that “the child of foreign parents is a Swiss citizen from birth if its mother was a Swiss citizen and the parents were Swiss are domiciled in Switzerland at the time of birth ». This idea has a long tradition: "Measures to combat foreign infiltration" had been discussed since the end of the 19th century, including facilitated naturalization. In 1928 a referendum approved a revision of the federal constitution with the same content, but a corresponding law was never passed. If the initiative had been accepted, it would have meant a constitutional ban on the introduction of ius soli in Switzerland. In 1974 an initiative aimed at limiting the number of naturalizations to 4,000 a year was rejected. The restrictive naturalization Air was in the hit feature film in 1978 , the Swiss maker satirizes .
In the 1970s and 1980s, there was criticism of the unequal treatment of men and women in terms of civil rights. As a result, in 1978 the children of Swiss women who were married to a foreigner automatically received the municipal and cantonal citizenship rights of the Swiss mother. Since this rule was introduced retrospectively, the number of naturalizations temporarily increased significantly in 1978/79. From 1988 women no longer had to make a declaration in order to retain Swiss citizenship when marrying a foreigner. As of January 1, 1992, the regulation that a foreigner automatically acquired a Swiss citizen's municipal and cantonal citizenship rights and thus Swiss citizenship rights by marrying a Swiss citizen no longer applies. At the same time, foreigners who were married to a Swiss woman were given the option of simplified naturalization. Men and women were treated equally with regard to naturalization through marriage. In the same year, dual and multiple citizenship became unrestricted in Switzerland.
There have been repeated efforts to enable young foreigners ( secondos ) who grew up in Switzerland to obtain easier naturalization. Corresponding constitutional changes resp. However, federal resolutions were clearly rejected in the votes of 1983, 1994 and 2004 by the people and the cantons. The eased naturalization of Swiss-born grandchildren of immigrant foreigners, which was adopted in 2017, was clearly rejected in 2004.
Towards the end of the 1990s, the SVP submitted initiatives in various municipalities which demanded that a referendum should be made on applications for naturalization. The constitutionality of such votes was controversial, the City Council of Zurich declared an initiative with this aim to be invalid in 2000, a decision that the Federal Supreme Court upheld in 2003 in the final instance. In other municipalities such as Emmen in Lucerne, on the other hand, ballot boxes were introduced for naturalization. In April 2000, several people whose applications for naturalization had been rejected by the municipality of Emmen lodged a complaint. The Federal Supreme Court approved their complaints in 2003 and came to the conclusion that ballot boxes on naturalization were unconstitutional, since naturalization decisions must be an administrative act and must be justified. However, this is inherently not the case with ballot boxes. In response to this ruling, the Swiss People's Party launched the Federal People's Initiative “for democratic naturalizations” . This required the following constitutional provision: «The voters of each municipality determine in the municipality ordinance which organ grants the municipality citizenship. The decision of this body on the granting of community citizenship is final. " The initiative was rejected by the electorate on June 1, 2008, so that voting on naturalization was prohibited.
The parliament voted by 20 June 2014 to the revised Civil Rights Act. By means of an ordinance , the integration criteria, naturalization procedures and fees were adjusted at federal level and the requirements for obtaining Swiss citizenship were tightened. On June 17, 2016, the Federal Council passed the Civil Rights Ordinance; the law should come into force on January 1, 2018. Accordingly, in order to acquire Swiss citizenship, an applicant must have a permanent residence permit ( permit C), have been resident in Switzerland for ten years, be integrated (be able to speak at least one national language ), respect public safety and order and the values of the Federal Constitution , on Participate in economic life or in education, campaign for the integration of one's own family, be familiar with the living conditions in Switzerland and must not endanger the internal or external security of Switzerland.
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