Officials in Washington filed a formal extradition request for the 76-year-old filmmaker, who has been in Swiss custody since his arrest on Sept. 26, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
Zurich authorities will hold a hearing, which has yet to be scheduled, to determine if Polanski should be sent back to Los Angeles. Polanski could serve a maximum sentence of two years in prison, according to the Justice Ministry.
The Oscar winner is wanted by U.S. authorities for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He fled the United States in 1978 for France after pleading guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with the girl.
Polanski can appeal an extradition approval to Switzerland's top criminal court and to the Federal Supreme Court.
"He will oppose this request and continue to ask to be released until the request is examined," Polanski's lawyer Herve Temime said of the extradition.
The U.S. had until late November to file for extradition, but according to documents obtained by the AP, the Swiss were asking that the Americans expedite the process on Oct. 5.