Selection procedure and entry into Switzerland

In contrast to the regular asylum procedure in Switzerland, for resettlement, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) conducts an assessment in the first-asylum country of whether a candidate fulfils all the preconditions for a resettlement to Switzerland. These are:

  • Recognition of the refugee status by the UNHCR;
  • A special need for protection that cannot be met in the first-asylum country;
  • Willingness to integrate in Switzerland;
  • Absence of exclusion criteria.

If all these preconditions are met, SEM, in cooperation with the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration IOM, then organises the transfer of the successful candidates to Switzerland. Upon arrival, resettlement refugees are granted asylum in accordance with Article 56 of the Asylum Act.

Selection procedure in first-asylum countries

SEM carries out the selection and reception procedures for refugees in first-asylum countries in close cooperation with the UNHCR. In a first step, the UHNCR determines whether a person fulfils the basic conditions for resettlement: the person is accepted as a refugee by the UNHCR, is unable to return to the country of origin nor to stay permanently in the first-asylum country, and has a special need for protection.

The UNHCR regards refugees as particularly vulnerable/in need of protection if they satisfy at least one of the following criteria:

  • Survivors of violence and/or torture;
  • Medical needs;
  • Women and girls at risk;
  • Legal and/or physical protection needs;
  • Children and adolescents at risk;
  • Family ties to the resettlement state.

If all these basic conditions for resettlement are met, the UNHCR will send the candidates’ files to SEM.

SEM then carries out a thorough assessment of all the candidates proposed for admission. During the selection missions in the first-asylum country, all candidates above 14 years of age are interviewed and their protection needs and willingness to integrate assessed. SEM also carries out an identity verification and checks if there are grounds for exclusion, such as a candidate’s involvement in war crimes or posing a risk to the safety of Switzerland. Only candidates who fulfil all the conditions for resettlement to Switzerland are admitted.      

Entry organisation

If Switzerland decides to accept refugees for resettlement, SEM prepares for their entry in close cooperation with the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration IOM. It also makes sure that the host cantons are informed early on about the resettled refugees’ state of health and other details. Resettlement refugees are allocated to the various cantons in proportion to their population on the basis of Article 21 of the Asylum Ordinance No. 1.

Last modification 09.12.2016

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