Coming of age

Most young migrants arriving alone in Switzerland are between 15 and 18 years of age. The transition to adult age, which is an essential step in the life of separated children, thus concerns a large part of them.

Moving to adulthood is a crucial event for UAM

"Most young people still need support after entering their 19th year. It is therefore necessary to develop mentoring services to allow socio-educational monitoring of UAM’s. These need to extend beyond the start of adulthood, until the youth has completed a training course and acquired the necessary skills to live independently. The recommendation of the CDAS should be considered is this regard stating that the benefits under the policies for children and youth must benefit youth and adults up to 25 years."

Recommendations of the CDAS on children and unaccompanied youth in the field of asylum, 2016


The term "ex-UAM" refers to young migrants who arrived in the host country as minors and who become adults during their stay.

Many young people are in this situation in view of their arrival in Switzerland in adolescence, but also because of the time taken for examining asylum applications in general. Many of them are granted temporary status allowing them to stay legally in Switzerland, but at adulthood fall in clandestinity or an unprepared return to their country of origin or third country.

What support?

Upon reaching adulthood, young adults are, in principle, without the specific measures in place for minors. In practice, however, some cantons shall support this transition by continuing to monitor the young adults in order to avoid a sudden break with the care system. Support to young adults raises critical questions that must be carefully considered. 


A study by the Foundation Terre des hommes – aid to Children published in 2010 raised the issue of runaways and disappearances of young asylum seekers. One of the determining factors of this phenomenon is the lack of prospects and fear of refusal held by these young people. This study touches a little discussed issue that needs to be a common reflection between field professionals, aid organizations and authorities.