Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent millions of people fleeing in search of safety.
Switzerland, while not a neighbour of Ukraine, has indicated it expects to take in up to 50,000 refugees, although higher numbers have also been contemplated.
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.
This however only applied for Tuesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes reported of long queues at the Federal Asylum Centre in Zurich, one of six set up across the country to administer Ukrainian refugee arrivals.
Some in the queue said they had been to the centre several times but had been unable to register, with queues moving slowly “due to language barriers” and other issues.
Is the centre in Zurich full – and what’s the situation in the rest of the country?
Authorities said the centre was not full and that new arrivals would be processed as best as possible, although they acknowledged there had been long wait times.
“The capacities for registering people who have fled Ukraine are constantly being increased. We are also in the process of examining alternative registration options,” spokesman Reto Kormann told 20 Minutes.
Each centre usually takes in around 1,000 applicants per month, Kormann said, but are currently trying to process 800 people per day.
Kormann however said that even where people have to wait, it would only be for a short period of time and that their S permits – the special visa scheme activated for the first time for those fleeing the Ukraine conflict – would be granted.
“Everyone else can only register in a week or two, so there are no disadvantages for them,” Kormann said.
“There are no quotas for protection status S. Anyone who seeks protection in Switzerland will receive it.”
The State Secretariat for Migration said on Twitter Ukrainians do not need to register on arrival.
Under existing visa rules, Ukrainians arriving in Switzerland are allowed to stay 90 days without applying for a visa.
More about the S permit, which allows those fleeing the Ukraine conflict to live, work or study in Switzerland for at least one year, is available at the following link.
Online registration coming soon
In order to better account for the influx, Switzerland is currently in the process of setting up an online registration system.
In addition to the centre in Zurich, other federal centres have been set up in Boudry (NE), Basel, Bern, Chiasso (TI) and Altstätten (SG).
As at March 17th, 7,903 refugees from the war in Ukraine, mostly women and children, have been registered in Switzerland, 3,664 of whom have been privately housed.
Donnerstag, 17. März – die aktuellen Zahlen zur ukrainischen Flüchtlingssituation in der Schweiz:
7'903 (registrierte) Geflüchtete, davon sind 3'664 privat untergebracht. pic.twitter.com/kCMWL0WDkm
— SEM (@SEMIGRATION) March 17, 2022
More information, including a range of FAQs, is laid out on the following Swiss government page.
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