Under the current law, expatriates holding a “carte de légitimation” or a Ci permit are entitled to apply to Swiss citizenship provided that they have been living in Switzerland for a minimum of twelve years, where they have spent at least three out of the last five years on Swiss territory. However, significant changes will take place in 2018 with the enforcement of the new Swiss Citizenship Federal Law (LN).

What are the changes ?

The modifications concern the minimum of years spent in Switzerland as a resident and the type of permit hold  by the applicant. First, ten years instead of the current twelve are required as minimum residency duration. Secondly, only residents holding a C Permit will be able to apply.

Therefore, obtaining Swiss citizenship no longer relies on how long a person has been residing in Switzerland, but it depends on the nature of the permit hold by the applicant.

Consequences of the new law changes for UN staff and expatriates

These changes mean shorther naturalisation periods for current residents holding a Permit C. Residents having lived for ten years in Switzerland will be able to apply for citizenship without having to wait twelve years. However, residents who do not hold a Permit C will have to obtain it first before being able to apply for Swiss citizenship.

The key issue lies in the fact that, to this date, a “carte de légitimation” or Ci Permit does not confer the rights to obtain a Permit C. As a consequence, once the new law comes into effect, holders of such permits will no longer qualify to Swiss citizenship.

This implies that expatriates not holding a Permit C and planning to apply to Swiss citizenship would be well inspired to start the process before 2018, if they meet the twelve year residency requirement to avoid being penalized by the new law. Until the new law comes into force, the current conditions apply (art. 50).


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