Access to the territory and push backs


Country Report: Access to the territory and push backs Last updated: 19/04/22


Swiss Refugee Council Visit Website

Pushbacks at the southern border between Como and Chiasso had been a major problem during the summer of 2016 (see AIDA Report 2016 Update). OSAR was informed in September 2019 of people being pushed back at the southern border. In these cases, Italian authorities received minors (but also adults) who have been sent back on the basis of the Italo-Swiss readmission agreement, without proper identification. This is in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child according to which the best interest of the child should take precedence over any other consideration and should always receive careful assessment.[1] In 2020, the NGO Asylex reported two cases of pushbacks occurring at the Southern border (see AIDA Report 2020 Update).

There were no reported cases of push backs in 2021.

When asylum seekers in transit are in the possession of false documents they are subject to more restrictive admission conditions. In Geneva, they are admitted after an arrest order not exceeding 24 hours and brought before the Public Prosecutor, who issues an accusation ruling for forgery of a document with a fine,[2] which may constitute in some cases a violation of Article 31 of the Geneva Refugee Convention.[3]

Legal access to the territory (beyond family reunification)

Third country nationals can apply for a humanitarian visa. The Swiss Red Cross used to run a counter for counselling on humanitarian visa which was closed down in December 2021 due to the restrictive practice in Switzerland.[4] The Swiss government also offers about 800 places for Resettlement per year. On 29 May 2019, the Federal Council approved the admission of up to 1,600 particularly vulnerable refugees for 2020/2021, primarily from crisis contexts in the Middle East and along the migratory route across the central Mediterranean. In view to improve planning, the Federal Council henceforth intends to adopt a resettlement programme every two years within the range of 1,500 to 2,000 refugees.[5]




[1] Compare chapter “9.6.3 Pushbacks at the border”, in: Swiss Refugee Council OSAR, Reception conditions in Italy – Updated report on the situation of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of protection, in particular Dublin returnees, in Italy, January 2020, available at:

[2] Pursuant to Article 251 Criminal Code: Information provided by Elisa-Asile, 21 January 2019.

[3] Information provided by Elisa-Asile, 21 January 2019.

[4] Information on the application for a humanitarian visa can still be found in on their homepage

[5] Communication of the SEM in English available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection