Even though some asylum centres in Switzerland are already overcrowded, thousands of more Ukrainian refugees are expected to arrive before summer.
Speaking before the National Council, Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said that, according to latest estimates from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), between 35,000 and 50,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine may arrive before June.
Previously, the SEM had assumed a cumulative total of 60,000 by the end of the conflict.
To date, over 5,200 – mostly women and children — are already in Switzerland, having received protection status S, a special visa system which Switzerland activated for the first time.
This means these refugees can stay one year in Switzerland without having to go through the asylum procedure, and are allowed to work and study.
The government will also pay for their language courses, Keller-Sutter said.
From Thursday, appointments for registration at various centres can be done online, which should prevent long queues in front of the six federal asylum centres.
As of Tuesday evening, SEM has already registered over 5,200 Ukrainian refugees, bringing the capacity of these centres to their maximum. The most impacted so far is the Zurich facility.
Tuesday at midday, SEM announced that the Zurich centre could no longer register more refugees, as it is overwhelmed by the number of requests for S permits.
Im Bundesasylzentrum Zürich können heute keine zusätzlichen Personen aus der #Ukraine 🇺🇦 mehr registriert werden. Wer keine Unterkunft hat, kann sich aber weiterhin beim BAZ Zürich melden. Wir vermitteln eine Unterkunft.
— SEM (@SEMIGRATION) March 15, 2022
Other Swiss asylum facilities are in located Boudry (NE), Basel, Bern, Chiasso (TI) and Altstätten (SG).
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:
- The person had a valid residence permit or at least a temporary residence in Ukraine before the 24th February 2022
- He/she cannot return in a secure and long term manner to their country of origin
- 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”.
More information about applying for an S permit in Switzerland is available here.