The reception system is organised in two phases, the first being under federal and the second under cantonal responsibility. During the first phase – which should not exceed 140 days – asylum applicants are accommodated in federal asylum centres under the responsibility of the State Secretariat for Migration, while upon allocation to a canton, their accommodation is managed at cantonal level.
Asylum applications can be submitted in one of the six federal asylum centres with processing facilities, located in Zurich, Bern, Basel, Chiasso/Balerna, Boudry and Altstätten. Once the application for international protection has been lodged, the applicant can be transferred to one of the other centres within the same category. All applicants (except from those falling under the airport procedure) spend the first weeks after their application and up to 140 days in those centres, where they are accommodated and where the first steps of the procedure are carried out.
If their application is dismissed or rejected, asylum seekers are transferred to a federal asylum centre without processing facilities (so-called “departure centres”), from which their Dublin transfer or removal to their country of origin is organised. In cases where the removal has not taken place within 140 days from the lodging of the asylum application – inter alia due to difficulties in organising the travel documents, awaiting of a Court decision or any other reason – the persons will be allocated to a canton.
The second phase of reception is managed at cantonal level. A transfer in cantonal facilities occurs: a) when a person receives a positive decision or a temporary admission within an accelerated procedure; b) when the extended procedure is ordered; c) when a person is accommodated in a federal asylum centre for more than 140 days, even if his or her application has been dismissed or rejected.
Cantons are in charge of their own reception centres. Usually, asylum seekers and beneficiaries of protection will be first accommodated in collective centres, and in a second stage in shared apartments or private apartments in case of larger families. For those rejected asylum seekers who have lost their right to social assistance, the cantons provide for emergency aid shelters (see Forms and levels of material reception conditions).
Persons who have been recognised as refugees and temporarily admitted persons have the right to social assistance, including accommodation, without time limit.