Overview of the main changes since the previous report update


Country Report: Overview of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 30/06/23


Swiss Refugee Council Visit Website

The report was last updated in May 2023.

International protection

  • Key asylum statistics: in 2022, there were 24,511 applications for international protection in Switzerland, including 7,054 applications by Afghan nationals; this is a stark increase of 64% from a total of 14,928 applications in 2021. This also included 2,450 applications from unaccompanied minors, mostly from Afghanistan (2,001), compared to a total of 989 applications in 2021 (148% increase). Of 11,213 applications examined on the merits, the overall protection rate stood at 81% (45% refugee status, 36% temporary admission). Despite the increase in applications, the overall length of procedure slightly decreased to 106 days (124 in 2021), but with significant variations: 72 days for the accelerated procedure (up from 55 in 2021), 254 in the extended procedure, 964 in the old procedure). Moreover, 12,239 cases were still pending at first instance at the end of 2022. Concurrently, of 3,703 applications for humanitarian visas, 142 were accepted (mainly Afghan nationals, 98) and 641 persons were resettled (mainly Syrian nationals, 436).

Asylum procedure

  • Rising numbers: The Swiss asylum procedure is already highly accelerated and rushed. As there was a certain rise in asylum application in autumn 2022, legal protection has been working at full capacity. The weaknesses of accelerated procedures became more visible as numbers went up. More persons were assigned to the extended procedure. The Swiss Refugee Council has stressed that also under these extraordinary circumstances, the correct conduction of asylum procedures and procedural rights of asylum seekers must be guaranteed.[1]
  • Unaccompanied minors: Due to the increased number of arrivals of asylum seekers in the second half of 2022, a significant number of them unaccompanied minors, the SEM introduced acceleration measures in the asylum procedures of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers.[2] The Swiss Refugee Council emphasised that standards in favour of refugees should be respected despite the exceptional situation. In particular, child protection must be guaranteed in accommodation, care and asylum procedures: unaccompanied children and adolescents must have access to a person of trust and be accommodated separately from adults at any time.
  • Dublin Croatia: In a reference judgment[3] of March 2023, the Federal Administrative Court assumed that persons will have access to the asylum procedure in Croatia, regardless of whether they are transferred to Croatia by means of a take back or take-charge procedure. The court denied the existence of systemic deficiencies in the Croatian asylum system and clarified that a transfer should only be waived in exceptional cases if it can be shown that the general assumption does not apply in the individual case.
  • Dublin Italy: Taking into account the changes in the Italian legislation introduced by the Salvini Decree (Decree 132/2018), the Court has in 2019 extended the need to obtain individual guarantees from the Italian authorities to the cases of applicants with serious health problems: such guarantees include both adequate accommodation and immediate access to medical care.[4] Following that jurisprudence, a number of cases were referred back to the SEM for further instruction with the requirement of obtaining individual guarantees from Italian authorities.[5] In 2022, this obligation was lifted again regarding take charge procedures. For take back procedures, guarantees are still required. The Court justified this distinction with the risk of being excluded from accommodation in take back cases.[6]
  • BIPs from Greece: For persons with international protection status in Greece, the Swiss authorities are generally of the opinion that the person can be transferred back there. For families with children, the Court considered the execution of the removal order to be reasonable only if favourable conditions or circumstances exist. The legal presumption of the reasonableness of enforcing removal was no longer upheld by the Court in the case of persons who, due to their particularly high vulnerability, run the risk of being permanently placed in severe distress if they return to Greece, because they are not in a position to claim the rights to which they are entitled on the spot by their own efforts. The Court therefore considered the removal of extremely vulnerable persons entitled to protection, such as unaccompanied minors or persons with serious mental or physical health problems, to be unreasonable in principle, unless there are particularly favourable circumstances on the basis of which it can exceptionally be assumed that the removal is reasonable.[7]

Reception conditions

  • Reception crisis: In autumn 2022, the increase in asylum applications led to a tense situation also regarding reception. Although the overall number of asylum applications was not that high compared to other years, together with the persons fleeing from Ukraine, challenges became visible in terms of accommodation, care and support. In the view of the Swiss Refugee Council, the conditions in some federal asylum centres became untenable, especially in the regions of north-western and western Switzerland.[8]
  • Temporary federal asylum centres: In order to increase reception capacity, the SEM reallocated some spaces in the ordinary centres into dormitories and opened about 20 temporary federal asylum centres, increasing the capacity at federal level to over 10,000 places.[9] At the same time, the SEM took measures to reduce the number of residents in federal centres: it implemented measures to accelerate asylum procedures and exceptionally attributed some asylum seekers to the cantons.[10] The premises for most temporary asylum centres opened by the SEM belong to the army and consist in either military barracks or military multi-purpose or sports halls. In the latter case, curtains have been installed to provide for smaller dorms, but the personal and family sphere cannot be adequately respected in such big spaces that were not planned as accommodation. Furthermore, in at least two of the six asylum regions, the SEM has resorted to underground civil protection shelters as temporary federal asylum centres. On 16 December 2022, the SEM communicated again that more military buildings were to be temporarily used as reception centres and that the army was going to provide for further support in the areas of logistics and transportation, but not assistance nor security. Given the acute lack of personnel, civil servants are also providing support in assistance tasks.[11] At its meeting of 1 February 2023, the Federal Council adopted the corresponding report for the parliament’s attention,[12] which agreed on the involvement of the army until end of March 2023.[13]
  • Unaccompanied minors: In its last report drawing conclusions on the visits conducted in 17 federal asylum centres between 2021 and 2022, the National Commission for Prevention of Torture (NCPT) expressed high concern for the situation of unaccompanied minors, who are not able to get any personalised support at least since February 2022. The situation of girls is of particular concern: given their small number, they are often accommodated with adults and left to themselves. The NCPT clearly stated that the treatment of minors is in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) because the best interests of the children are not considered enough and their rights to protection, rest, leisure, play and recreational activities are not guaranteed. According to the NCPT, the current system of support for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers must be reviewed and adapted so that professional and continuous assistance for all children is guaranteed even in the event of a large influx.[14]

Detention of asylum seekers

  • External contact: Since June 2022, the FNIA provides for a new possibility of restraining the opportunities for detainees to have contact with specific persons or groups in cases where the person concerned is assumed to pose a specific risk to internal or external security, and even ordering solitary confinement if the restrictions have proven inadequate to counter such security risk.[15]
  • Places of detention: Despite a rather new tendency to centralise immigration administrative detention in fewer facilities that can better comply with national and international norms, almost all detention facilities used are either ordinary prisons or former prisons. In many of them, immigration detainees are held under the same roof as convicted or remand prisoners, mostly in separated sections, but sometimes also in cells that are not specifically foreseen for this form of detention.

Content of international protection

  • Waiting period family reunification: In November 2022, the Federal Administrative Court decided in a leading judgment[16] that for persons with a temporary admission, the statutory waiting period of three years is no longer strictly and automatically applicable. Applications for family reunification must already be examined after one and a half years if further waiting is disproportionate in individual cases. The judgment has immediate effect. In ruling so, the Federal Administrative Court adapted its case law to a ruling of the ECtHR.[17]

Other developments

  • Political change: Since January 2023 a new Federal Council is in place in the Federal Department of Justice and Police FDJP, which the State Secretariat for Migration SEM is part of. Instead of Karin Keller-Sutter from the liberalist party FDP, Elisabeth Baume-Schneider from the left socialist party SP is now head of FDJP.
  • The SEM informed the cantons on 24 January 2023 on their prognosis for 2023 in terms of numbers, which lies between 24’000 and 40’000 new asylum applications.[18]
  • Visas for Türkiye and Syria: As a reaction to the devastating earthquakes in parts of Türkiye and Syria in February 2023, Switzerland decided to prioritise visa applications from those regions in order to enable the victims of these disasters to quickly find accommodation with close relatives in Switzerland. Following a steady decline in the number of applications in recent weeks, priority treatment will be discontinued on May 12, 2023.[19]


Status S

The information given hereafter constitute a short summary of the 2022 Report on Status S, for further information, see Annex on Status S.

  • Key status S statistics: in 2022, there were 74,959 applications for status S registered before the SEM, of which 72,611 received a positive decision. 7,621 persons ended their status S in 2022 and a further 1,542 persons’ status were under review regarding potential termination at the end of the year. As of 31 December 2022, there were 62,820 persons benefitting from status S in Switzerland.
  • Protection for persons displaced from Ukraine in Switzerland: 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.[20] It was activated for the first time in the context of the war in Ukraine by the Federal Council on 11 March 2022.[21] The status shows some parallels to the EU Temporary Protection Status.[22] It is provided to a certain category of persons (see Qualification for Status S) without undergoing an asylum procedure.

Status S procedure

  • Procedure: Persons who fall under the scope of status S should register in one of the federal asylum centres and without undergoing an asylum procedure, will be granted a permit.
  • Scope of protection: Protection status S applies to the following categories of persons according to the Decision of the Federal Council on 11 March 2022:[23]
    • Ukrainian citizens seeking protection and their family members (partners, underage children and other close relatives and who were fully or partially supported at the time of the escape) who were resident in Ukraine before 24 February 2022;
    • Persons seeking protection of other nationalities and stateless persons as well as their family members as defined in letter a who have applied for international or national protection status in Ukraine prior to 24 February 2022;
    • Protection seekers of other nationalities and stateless persons as well as their family members as defined in letter a, who are in possession of a valid short stay or residence permit giving them a valid right of residence in Ukraine and who cannot be returned to their home countries in safety and permanently.

Content of status S

  • Duration of protection: The Federal Council decided on 9 November 2022 that the protection status S will be maintained at least until March 2024.[24] The cantons extend the documents annually, ; after the Federal Council’s decision now until at least March 2024. Iif protection status is not revoked after five years, a residence permit may be issued. If protection status is not revoked after ten years, a settlement permit can be issued.[25]
  • Rights available to status S beneficiaries: Those who receive status S are entitled to social benefits and universal health insurance. In addition, the freedom to travel (in Switzerland and for 2 months also abroad, except to Ukraine)[26] is guaranteed. Anyone who finds a job in Switzerland is allowed to work. Self-employment is also possible. However, the salary is then credited to the social benefits.[27]




[1] Swiss Refugee Council, press release of 1 November 2022, available in French (and German) at: https://bit.ly/3jtp5pU

[2] SEM, press release of 25 October 2022, available at: http://bit.ly/3ZjHyUY.

[3] Federal Administrative Court, Decision E-1488/2020, 22 March 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/40Z7d5V; press release of the Federal Administrative Court in English (and German, French, Italian) available at: https://bit.ly/44qowQf; press release of the Swiss Refugee Council available in French (and German) at: https://bit.ly/40UVB3S.

[4] Federal Administrative Court, Reference Decision E-962/2019, 17 December 2019, para 7.4.3.

[5] Federal Administrative Court, Decisions D-4067/2019, 14 January 2020; D-1869/2019, 22 January 2020; D-552/2020, 5 February 2020; E-6810/2016, 11 March 2020; F-2751/2019, 17 March 2020; D-5952/2020, 4 December 2020. Case concerning a pregnant woman who was considered vulnerable: Federal Administrative Court, Decision F-2393/2020, 13 July 2020. However, pregnant women do not automatically fall under vulnerable applicants according to the Court, see Decisions E-406/2015, 2 April 2015; D-4978/2016, 6 September 2016 and E-1026/2020, 4 March 2020. In one case, the Court also stated that the unborn child cannot rely on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Decision E-406/2015, 2 April 2015. Case concerning a victim of trafficking: Federal Administrative Court, Decision E-543/2020, 16 March 2020.

[6] Federal Administrative Court, Decision D-4235/2021, 19 April 2022, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/41hfthZ.  

[7] Federal Administrative Court, Decision E-3427/2021, E-3431/2021, 28 March 2022, available in German at: https://bit.ly/42vOm3C.

[8] Swiss Refugee Council, press release of 1 November 2022, available in French (and German) at: https://bit.ly/3jtp5pU

[9] SEM, Asile : la situation reste tendue, press release, 22 December 2022, available in French (and German and Italian) at:  https://bit.ly/40qS66k.

[10] SEM, Les centres fédéraux pour requérants d’asile frôlent la saturation – des départs anticipés pour les cantons s’imposent, 25 October 2022, https://bit.ly/3vy75gt.  The early attribution during the asylum procedure stopped on 15 December 2022.

[11] SEM, L’armée met des places d’hébergement supplémentaires à la disposition du SEM, 16 December 2022, available in French (and German and Italian) at: https://bit.ly/3HhNGWo

[12] Federal Council, Soutien au SEM: le Conseil fédéral adopte le message relatif au service d’appui de l’armée dans le domaine de l’asile, press release, 1 February 2023, available in French (and German and Italian) at : https://bit.ly/3lwQcB3.

[13] Voting on 6 March 2023. For further information see on the Parliament website: https://bit.ly/3AXdMeA.  

[14] NCPT, Report on federal asylum centres 2021-2022, available in German at: https://bit.ly/42pPPZh, 19 and ff.

[15] Article 81(5) and (6) FNIA.

[16] Federal Administrative Court, Decision F-2739/2022, 22 November 2022 (in French): https://bit.ly/3PYPvf1; press release available in English (German, French and Italian) https://bit.ly/3WMIkZr.

[17] ECtHR, Application no. 6697/18, M.A. v Denmark, 9 July 2021, available at: http://bit.ly/3HAjLKs.

[18] SEM, Prévisions en matière d’asile pour 2023 : le SEM a informé les cantons, 24 January 2023, available in French (and German and Italian) at: https://bit.ly/3T77DVL.

[19] Federal Council, press release of 2 May 2023, available in French (and German and Italian) at: https://bit.ly/3pdprUg.

[20] Art. 66 – 79(a) AsylA.

[21] Federal Council, Ukraine: le Conseil Fédéral active le statut de protection S pour les Ukrainiens, press  release, 11 March 2022, available in French (and German and Italian) at: https://bit.ly/3XaEDgK.

[22] Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof [2001] OJ L 212/12, available at: http://bit.ly/409uJhu.

[23] Federal Council, Ukraine: le Conseil Fédéral active le statut de protection S pour les Ukrainiens, press release, 11 March 2022, available in French (and German and Italian) at: https://bit.ly/3XaEDgK.

[24] Federal Council, No lifting of protection status S, press  release, 9 November 2022, available in English (as well as French, German and Italian) at: https://bit.ly/3iElxkf.

[25] Articles 76 and 74 AsylA.

[26] Practice of the SEM regarding Article 79 AsylA and Article 78(1)(c)c AsylA.

[27] Article 85 AsylA.

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