Social welfare


Country Report: Social welfare Last updated: 19/04/22


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Refugees with asylum and temporarily admitted refugees who are unable to maintain themselves from their own resources are entitled to social benefits. They must be granted the same benefits as local recipients of social assistance.[1] The guidelines of the Swiss Conference for Social Assistance (SCSA) apply.[2]

For their part, temporarily admitted foreigners should receive the necessary social benefits unless third parties are required to support them.[3] The social benefits should be rendered in kind as non-cash benefits if possible. The benefits are lower than the social benefits given to the local population.[4] They can be as much as 40% below the guidelines of the SCSA. On national average, beneficiaries subjected to asylum law (asylum seekers and temporarily admitted persons) received a monthly average of 1,119 CHF of net income to cover their needs as of June 2015. The amount, however, strongly varies from one canton to another and is supposed to cover basic social assistance, accommodation, health care costs as well as specific needs when necessary.

The provision of social benefits is under the responsibility of the Confederation as long as the person is staying in a federal asylum centre. After allocation to a canton, the canton should provide social assistance or emergency aid on the basis of Article 80a AsylA. Cantonal laws fix the amount and grounds for granting and limiting welfare benefits. This results in large differences of treatment among cantons.

Temporarily admitted foreigners are usually free to choose their place of residence within the canton unless they receive social assistance benefits. The cantonal authorities assign a place of residence and accommodation to temporarily admitted persons dependent on social assistance.[5]

Since the aggravation in the Foreigners Act of 2019 which stated that the dependency on social welfare may lead to a downgrade in terms of status, it has been observed that persons abstain from social welfare because they fear negative consequences.




[1] Article 3(1) AO2.

[2] SCSA, Les normes CSIAS, available in French (and German and Italian) at:

[3] Article 81 AsylA.

[4] Article 82(3) AsylA.

[5] Article 85(5) FNIA.

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