What are the important steps in the naturalization process in Switzerland? Requirements – application process – interviews

Many are afraid to begin the process of naturalization in Switzerland. They fear their knowledge of Switzerland – especially politics – is insufficient and too difficult to master.

It may look like it’s a very long road to reach the required level of language proficiency, never mind gaining the confidence to speak in front of a panel in a foreign language.

Maybe you don’t know where to begin. Preparing in a traditional school will take too long and your schedule is already full. Therefore you may be hesitant to even begin the process.

Don’t fear: almost everyone who starts the process ends up achieving their goal. 

The time you need to achieve this goal varies. If you pass the interviews on the first try, in most cases you will receive the Swiss passport after about 2 years.If you fail the naturalization interviews, this can delay the process for years. Here is an example of how the municipality of Allschwil in the canton of Baselland deals with insufficient knowledge:

“In the case of language deficiencies, a recommendation for a deferment of two years is usually made, and in the case of deficiencies in national political, geographical, historical or cultural knowledge, a deferment of one year is usually made. An application can be deferred only once.” https://www.buergergemeinde-allschwil.ch/assets/upload/documents/Einbuergerungsrichtlinie-vom-29.-Oktober-2018.pdf

As in all testing situations, good preparation is the key to success.

If you would like to begin the process of naturalization in Switzerland, here is an outline of what to expect.

Meet the requirements

If you meet the requirements, you can apply for citizenship in Switzerland. The main requirements before you can start the naturalization process are:

    • 10 years of residence in Switzerland

    • C-permit

    • Proof of respect for public safety and order (no criminal record, no debt collection/loss certificates, your taxes are paid)

    • Participation in economic life or acquiring education (have a job or be studying, no social assistance in the three years before submitting the application, unless you have paid it back in full)

    • Respect for the values of the Federal Constitution; that means you respect and agree with the principles of the rule of law as well as the free democratic principles

    • Respect he fundamental rights such as the equality of men and women, the right to life and personal freedom, freedom of belief and conscience, and freedom of expression; freedom of opinion

This part is tested in the naturalization interviews and by signing a document (self-declaration) that contains the values of the constitution. The State Secretariat for Migration provides an overview on its website.

Apply for citizenship in Switzerland

You can obtain the application form from the naturalization authority where you live. You have to submit the application to this authority as well. 

The following points are the primary steps of the naturalization process for ordinary naturalization. They may differ in detail in the individual cantons and municipalities.

The canton and municipality will review your application and ask you to submit various documents. 

a) Copy of passport

b) Tax identification card

c) Names of references, normally four people. The reference persons must be Swiss citizens and have their place of residence in Switzerland

d) Proof of language skills or language certificate 

e) Extract from the debt enforcement and loss certificate register

f) Extract from the criminal record

These documents may also be required:

    • Information from the social welfare authorities on any financial benefits received; (if any)

    • Certificate of residence

Note: Some documents, for example, the civil status certificates and the tax certificate, must be at most three months. Therefore, requesting your documents needs some planning.

The interviews in your naturalization process

All interviews will be conducted in the language of your canton.

A first interview often takes place with your canton. This interview is conducted by telephone or in-person and lasts about 20 to 30 minutes.

You need to be able to understand and answer questions about your current situation in Switzerland, your family members, your profession, and other questions. The questions asked here are intended to clarify whether you meet the formal requirements for naturalization in Switzerland.

The canton forwards your application to your municipality. Then the municipality invites you for second interview.This interview is often the final step in your active participation in your naturalization process. It is conducted in front of a panel and lasts about 30 – 60 minutes.

In addition to your knowledge of the country, this interview examines how well you are integrated into your community. Participation in politics, education, sports, culture, volunteerism, or local/regional events will be discussed.

After this interview the active part of your naturalization process is finished. The municipal commission writes a report and sends it to the canton and the federal government for further review.

When you have arrived here, your active part is largely completed. You can wait for the arrival of your Swiss passport.

Do you have any questions? You can email me or write your question in the comment below.

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