Residence permit


Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 14/05/21


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Refugees with asylum

Recognised refugees with asylum receive a residence permit called B-permit.[1] This permit is issued for a year and then prolonged by the responsible canton. Recognised refugees with asylum have a right to have this permit issued and prolonged. If there are reasons to withdraw the refugee status, the right to have the permit issued and prolonged is withdrawn. In 2020, asylum status and B-permits were granted to 5,409 persons, including family asylum.[2] On 31 December 2020, there were a total of 48,435 recognised refugees with a B-permit and 18,740 with a C-permit in Switzerland.[3]

Temporary admission

Persons granted temporary admission receive an F-permit.[4] Technically this is not considered a real permit of stay, but rather the confirmation that a deportation order cannot be carried out and that the person is allowed to stay in Switzerland as long as this is the case. The concept of temporary admission is legally designed as a replacement measure for a deportation order that cannot be carried out because of international law obligations, humanitarian reasons or practical obstacles. This means that there is a negative decision, but the execution of this decision is stayed for the duration of the legal or humanitarian obstacles. Consequently, the F-permit has a number of relevant limitations: for example, persons with an F-permit are only allowed to travel outside Switzerland in exceptional cases, under restrictive and limited circumstances. Also, family reunification is only possible after a waiting period of 3 years, and under the condition that the person is financially independent and has a large enough apartment. The F-permit is issued for one year and then prolonged by the responsible canton, unless there are reasons to end the temporary admission.

In 2020, 4,309 persons were granted a temporary admission as a foreigner. On 31 December 2020, there were a total of 48,644 persons with a temporary admission as a foreigner living in Switzerland. Out of these, 11,195 persons have had this status for more than seven years.[5]

There are also persons who have a refugee status but receive only temporary admission instead of asylum (in case of exclusion grounds from asylum, as Switzerland makes the distinction between refugee status and asylum). They receive the same F-permit as other foreigners with temporary admission (with the mention “refugee”), but in addition they have the right to a refugee travel document, and all the other rights granted by the Refugee Convention. In 2020, 785 persons were granted a temporary admission as a refugee. On 31 December 2020, there were a total of 10,080 persons with a temporary admission as a refugee living in Switzerland. Out of these, 3,636 persons have had this status for more than seven years. [6]

The Swiss Refugee Council is not aware of systematic difficulties in the issuance or renewal of those residence permits with the exception of the situation of Eritrean nationals (see Differential Treatment of Specific Nationalities in the Procedure).

Temporary protection

Swiss asylum law provides the possibility to grant temporary protection (“protection provisoire”, “S permit”) to persons in need of protection during a period of serious general danger, in particular during a war or civil war as well as in situations of general violence (Articles 66-79a AsylA). This instrument – introduced in the aftermath of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia – should enable the Swiss authorities to react in an appropriate, quick and pragmatic manner to situations of mass exodus. Until now, this instrument has never been used by the Swiss authorities.


[1]  Article 60(1) AsylA.

[2] This refers to persons who have been granted asylum on a derivative ground, particularly members of the nuclear family who are not entitled to their own grounds for asylum.

[3] SEM, Asylum Statistics 2019.

[4] Article 41(2) and Article 85(1) FNIA.

[5]  SEM, Asylum Statistics 2020.

[6] SEM, Asylum Statistics 2020 (table 7-40).

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