Switzerland votes to ease citizenship process

Source: The Guardian

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Voters support proposal to make it easier for third-generation immigrants to become citizens, despite opposition from populists

Women cast their votes in Switzerland referendum
Women cast their ballots in Obersaxen Meierhof. More than 60% of Swiss people backed the citizenship changes. Photograph: Benjamin Manser/EPA

Switzerland has voted to make it easier for third-generation immigrants to become citizens, rejecting rightwing politicians’ complaints that the proposed measures would pose a security risk.

Until now, a fast-track route to citizenship was only open to foreigners who had been married to Swiss citizens for more than six years, including those who have never lived in the country.

The outcome of the referendum on Sunday will open up this easier route to the children of secondos (second-generation immigrants), who number about 24,000 in the country of 8 million inhabitants. Nearly 60% of this group are Italian, followed by people from the Balkans and Turkey.

The constitutional amendment does not make naturalisation an automatic process, and applicants will still be required to prove they are aged 25 or under, were born in Switzerland and visited a school there for at least five years, share Swiss cultural values, speak a national language and do not depend on state aid.

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