Asylum in Switzerland

Anyone threatened in his country can seek asylum in Switzerland under the criteria of protection against persecution recognized by international law.

Swiss asylum policy

Swiss asylum policy is based on the principles of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is the key document in the definition of the refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of signatory states. SEM is responsible for the implementation and execution of asylum policy and the cantons are responsible for enforcement of judgments.

The asylum application

Is considered asylum application any event in which a person asks Switzerland to protect against persecution. The asylum application may be filed in writing or orally at a border crossing, the customs post of a Swiss airport or a registration and procedure center for asylum seekers (CEP). People who enter the asylum procedure receive an N permit. At the level of national legislation, the procedure is much the same for minors and adults. For specific provisions reserved for minors, see "Asylum application for unaccompanied children".

The asylum procedure

The asylum procedure is used to determine if the claim is justified. The applicants are questioned through a personal interview on the reasons that led them to leave their country and seek protection in Switzerland. The examination of asylum claims lies with the SEM, while the cantons are responsible for the care and assistance of the applicants.

Asylum decision

After considering the grounds for the asylum application, the SEM delivers a positive or negative decision of recognition of refugee status. A positive decision can lead to the granting of:

  • B Permit (recognized refugee): a person who, in his State of origin or the country of their last residence, was exposed to serious harm or fear of being because of their nationality, religion, membership in a particular social group or political opinions.
  • F Permit (temporary refuge): a person whose refugee status has been recognized, but only for reasons arising from either leaving the State of origin or provenance, or his behavior after departure.

A negative decision may result in:

  • A refusal: the motives for the asylum application do not match the criteria for asylum. The implementation of the return to the country of origin is however not possible or feasible. In this case, the SEM grants an F permit (temporary admission) renewable according to the Swiss Government estimates.
  • A dismissal (French or German): the authorities do not enter into the examination process of the reasons for the request
  • The return to a third country: or the applicant is returned to a state where he has already filed an application for asylum (according to Dublin accord)