EXPLAINER: Who can enter Switzerland from May 11th?

EXPLAINER: Who can enter Switzerland from May 11th?
Switzerland's border with Italy will be among those re-opened on May 11th. Photo: AFP
Starting on Monday, Switzerland's borders with France, Italy and Austria, which have been shut since entry restrictions were implemented on March 25th, will gradually re-open. But not everyone will be allowed to come into the country.

Since the closure of borders, only selected people can enter Switzerland. They include Swiss citizens and permanent residents, as well as persons who have to travel to Switzerland for professional reasons, such as an estimated 329,000 cross-border workers from the neighbouring countries who commute to their Swiss jobs each day. 

However, starting on May 11th, the government “plans to gradually relax the restrictions on entry in step with the gradual reopening of the economy”, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said on its website. 

The only exception will be the border with Germany, which will remain shut until at least May 15th. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Switzerland to release a road map for reopening shuttered borders

Who can enter Switzerland from May 11th?

Workers from 'third countries', that is from outside the EU and EFTA — which includes Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein — who already have a permit to work in Switzerland but who were not issued a visa because of the current restrictions, will be permitted to enter the country.

Also, family members of Swiss citizens, or of citizens from EU/EFTA states living in Switzerland, will be able to be re-united in Switzerland.

What other measures will be taken to allow more foreigners to come to Switzerland?

The cantons will process all requests for residence permits and cross-border commuter permits from EU and EFTA citizens, which were submitted prior to March 25th. That includes those who were supposed to start short-term work in Switzerland when the borders closed.

Additionally, applications from employers to hire persons from third countries, submitted before the restrictions came into effect, will also be processed.

Who will be barred from entering Switzerland?

As the ban on non-essential travel is still in place, tourists and other random visitors, either from the EU/EFTA nations or from the third states, will not be allowed into the country for the time being. The same restrictions extend to cross-border shoppers. 

People arriving in Switzerland by air will be turned away at the airports, unless they fall into one of the categories eligible to enter the country.

The SEM pointed out that border controls currently in place will continue until further notice.

When might the remaining restrictions be eased?

Authorities indicated that “in principle, from June 8th it will be possible to process applications from all workers from EU and EFTA states”. However, they added that this step would be taken only “if the epidemiological situation permits”.


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