Switzerland’s special ‘S permit’ visa program: What Ukrainians need to know

Switzerland has announced a special visa program for Ukrainians fleeing conflict. Renuka Cavadini, a partner with Geneva's Page & Partners, explains how this special visa program works.

A Ukrainian flag against a dark background. Photo by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash
A Ukrainian flag against a dark background. Photo by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash

According to the United Nations, more than 2.5 million people have fled from Ukraine since the start of the conflict. This has already been considered the most significant refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

This nightmare began for the Ukrainian population in Switzerland on the 24th February at 5pm when they received calls from their families in Ukraine that the “war had begun”.

As part of Switzerland’s efforts to support those fleeing the conflict, it has approved the temporary ‘S permit’ visa regime. More information about this is available at the following link. 

UPDATE: How Switzerland is supporting refugees from Ukraine

The S permit which is being granted by the Swiss authorities for Ukrainian nationals is raising many questions – the purpose of this article is to answer some of them.

How do I apply? 

As yet, there is no online registration system, although the Swiss government has reported this will soon be set up. 

Please keep in mind that applications for an S permit must be made at the federal asylum centres in Switzerland’s cantons. Please contact the immigration authorities in your canton of residence. 

The Swiss government has provided updated contact information for federal centres in six Swiss cities and towns: Boudry, Bern, Basel, Chiasso, Zurich and Altstätten. 

Official information in German, French, Italian, English and Ukrainian can be found here

What is an S permit?

The S permit is an identity document authorising a temporary residence in Switzerland.

The S Permit will be activated from Friday, the 12th March 2022 for not only Ukrainian nationals but also to certain citizens of other countries who have had to flee from Ukraine.

Some of the conditions for the granting of the permit will be:

  1. The person had a valid residence permit or at least a temporary residence in Ukraine before the 24th February 2022
  2. He/she cannot return in a secure and long term manner to their country of origin
  3. They have not obtained a protection from any other country of the European Union.

To avoid long processes, the Swiss federal government has decided that:

The S permit holders do not need to wait for three months before seeking an authorisation to work in Switzerland. They can also have an independent professional activity.

The S Permit will allow them to travel in and out of Switzerland without a “visa retour”.

Practical tips

If you have recently arrived from Ukraine and already found employment, your employer needs to apply for your S permit but you can already begin to work.

To facilitate the tasks of the Swiss immigration authorities please collect the following documents / information for your S permit:

  1. Copy of passport
  2. Proof of date of arrival into Switzerland
  3. Proof of current address in Switzerland
  4. Proof of residency in Ukraine before 24th February 2022
  5. Civil status and if any children, documents 1-4 of the children

If  you are divorced, proof of custody of your children or a letter of authorisation from your ex-spouse.

If you are an employer seeking a S permit for a Ukrainian, apart from points 1-5, you will also need to provide the following:

  1. Work position of the Ukrainian employee
  2. Employment agreement 
  3. Diplomas / work certificates (if he/she has them)

This article was updated on Monday, March 14th, to reflect changes made to the S permit framework. 

The information in this article was prepared by Renuka Cavadini of Page & Partners. 

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Shareholder group urges Switzerland’s Nestle to halt all Russia business

Nestle must halt all its activities in Russia, the Actares shareholder organisation said Monday, ramping up the pressure after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky singled out the Swiss food giant.

Shareholder group urges Switzerland's Nestle to halt all Russia business

Nestle has suspended all its imports and exports to Russia, including Nespresso coffee pods and S.Pellegrino bottled water, but has maintained deliveries of vital products such as baby food.

In a speech live-streamed to a rally outside the Swiss federal parliament in Bern on Saturday, Zelensky urged Swiss companies to cease doing business in Russia, picking out Nestle, and condemned firms that carried on regardless despite the siege of Mariupol.

“Actares — shareholding for a more responsible economy — urges Nestle to consider President Zelensky’s call in the Federal Square to stop doing business with Russia!”, the group, one of Switzerland’s top shareholders’ associations, said in a statement.

Nestle insisted Sunday that it was not making any profits in Russia, winding down many of the firm’s activities in the country following the Kremlin-ordered invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24.

READ MORE: Ukraine’s Zelensky blasts Swiss banks in address to Bern rally

“We have stopped all our investments there and have ceased all our advertising activities,” a spokeswoman told AFP. “We do not make any profit from our remaining operations in Russia.

“We are doing everything possible in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to help alleviate this humanitarian catastrophe.”

Several US multinationals have withdrawn from Russia, like the fast food chain McDonald’s and the beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Nestle has been the subject of a call for a boycott circulating on social media networks.

On Monday, Zelensky called on European leaders to cease all trade with Russia in an effort to pressure Moscow to halt its nearly month-long military assault on Ukraine.