On Friday, March 11th, Switzerland unveiled a special protection visa status for people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, allowing people to live, work and study for at least one year in Switzerland.
Switzerland’s plan to take in Ukrainian refugees relies on a combination of public, i.e. hostels and shelters, and private accommodation.
How can I host Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland?
Anyone wanting to host refugees can do so by registering on the following link.
This registration is not a requirement of hosting, however it can link you with refugees arriving in Switzerland or those currently staying in federal accommodation.
In order to be a suitable host, you must satisfy the following criteria, according to Swiss Refugee Aid and the official advice from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).
The accommodation must be free
While it might sound self explanatory, anyone housing Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland must not accept any payment.
This is due to Switzerland’s strict tourism registration rules, which require people to register any paid/commercial arrivals staying with them at home with cantonal authorities.
All hotels and hostels must comply with this requirement (depending on cantonal rules), along with Airbnb hosts.
As noted expressly by the SEM “If the guest is charged for their accommodation, their arrival must be registered with the competent cantonal authority.”
The federal government has also expressly said it will not compensate anyone for hosting refugees, although the cantons are free to establish a compensation scheme.
While there is no minimum period suggested by the Swiss government for hosting refugees, potential hosts are recommended to expect at least three months to allow a person or a family to establish themselves in a new country.
Switzerland’s S permits are issued for a minimum of one year.
Swiss Refugee Aid also says anyone wanting to host refugees should have enough time in their personal schedule to help them out in everyday life, such as with navigating the famous Swiss bureaucracy.
While people fleeing conflict no doubt appreciate the generosity of those offering a mattress on the floor or a couch, those wanting to host long term should have enough space so that those hosted are comfortable.
Swiss Refugee Aid recommends a separate room or rooms, along with access to the bathroom and kitchen.
Also keep in mind the recommended time period laid out above.
Another recommendation is that those hosted have enough privacy, meaning that a separate room or rooms would be appropriate.
In discussing the criteria, Switzerland’s Watson news outlet reiterates that many of those who arrive in Switzerland will have been through traumatic experiences and will therefore benefit from a place of retreat.
Swiss Refugee Aid has emphasised the need for a stable environment for anyone fleeing a conflict situation.
More information, including a range of FAQs, is laid out on the following Swiss government page.