Asylum in Switzerland

a.    How do I seek asylum?

You need to be in Switzerland to file an asylum application. It is not possible to apply for asylum if you are outside the country. Once you arrive in Switzerland, you can ask for asylum at a border post, at a Swiss airport or in one of the federal reception centres for asylum seekers in Switzerland.

If you are abroad and wish to ask for asylum in Switzerland, you can submit an application for a humanitarian visa at a Swiss representation. Such humanitarian visas are, however, only granted in exceptional circumstances.

For more information on how to apply for asylum in Switzerland, please visit:

Important: Neither UNHCR, IOM nor the SEM or the legal advice offices in the federal reception centres take money for any services. Their help is always free of charge. You should not be asked, at any point, to pay for any of the services provided.

b.    What happens after I apply for asylum?

In Switzerland, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is responsible for deciding whether your asylum application will be accepted or not. Experts working for the SEM examine every application for asylum in a specific, formalized procedure; the asylum procedure. The purpose of the asylum procedure is to determine whether you need protection and can therefore stay in Switzerland.

For a better understanding about how the asylum procedure works, please watch this video explaining the asylum procedure in Switzerland provided by the State Secretary for Migration (SEM) or visit the different websites listed below.

If there is anything in your asylum procedure that you do not understand, please talk to your legal representative about it. This service is free of charge.

UNHCR has no formal role in the asylum procedure and UNHCR does, in general, not intervene in individual cases, nor provide individual legal representation or counselling.

For more information on the asylum procedure in Switzerland, please visit:  

  • on the asylum procedure in Switzerland, a flyer with basic information about it, a schematic representation of the procedure and an explainer video provided by the State Secretary for Migration (SEM)

c.    What if I already applied for asylum in another European country?

When you submit your asylum request, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) first examines whether Switzerland is responsible for your asylum process. This will depend on whether you first applied for asylum in Switzerland or in another European country. This examination is called the “Dublin Procedure”. The law that clarifies this is called the Dublin Regulation.

The Dublin Regulation identifies which State is responsible for your asylum procedure. If you already applied for asylum in another European country before coming to Switzerland, the State Secretary for Migration (SEM) will consider another European state to be responsible for the examination of your asylum application and you will be obliged to return to that state.

If you are asked to return to a third state but you think the decision is not correct, you can appeal against it at the Federal Administrative Court. We recommend that you contact your legal representative who will explain the process to you and help you with the appeal. Please be aware of the very tight time limits for such an appeal; If you wish to appeal, we recommend that you contact your legal representative immediately.

For more information on the Dublin Procedure, please visit:

  • Fact Sheet “I’m in the Dublin procedure – what does this mean?”, provided by the European Union (EU)

d.    Where do I get legal support?

During the asylum procedure, you have access to free counselling and legal representation upon arrival at a federal reception centre. You will be assigned a legal representative, who will support you through all important stages of your asylum and appeal procedure. You can direct any questions regarding your asylum procedure to your legal representative. Each federal reception centre also has a free legal counselling centre which is open every day and where you can ask any other question you may have.

Is your asylum procedure still pending and you are not living in a federal reception centre, but in a cantonal centre? You can contact a legal advice office in this canton for advice. A list of the legal advice offices in Switzerland is available here.

If you have questions before or after the asylum procedure, for example how to ask for asylum or how you can bring your family to Switzerland, you can contact one of the legal advice offices in your canton of residence.

Please note that this information only relates to the new asylum procedure, effective since 1 March 2019.

For more information on the Dublin Procedure, please visit:

  • General information concerning the legal support provided by the Swiss Refugee Council (SRC) in French or German

e.    What if I am an unaccompanied child?

Are you below 18 years old and alone in Switzerland?

The asylum procedure will be different for you, to adapt to your special needs. Most importantly, you will get help from an expert called a “person of trust” who will help you for free and ensure that your rights in the asylum procedure are respected.

You can always ask the person of trust for help with other problems you may face. The person of trust will take time for you. Always ask your person of trust how you can contact him or her. Write down the name and telephone number of your person of trust.

For more information on unaccompanied children, please visit:

You can also find an overview of organisations where you might ask for further help here.

f.     What if I get a positive decision?

If you received a positive decision, this means Switzerland grants you asylum. Asylum means that you can stay in Switzerland and you get a B permit.

But even if you have not been granted asylum, you might have the right to stay in Switzerland. Persons who are not safe in their home countries can get provisionally admitted in Switzerland (F-permit). A provisional admission means that you can stay in Switzerland, but your status will differ from those who have been granted asylum.

You can find more information about the different permits and the corresponding rights here.

g.    What if I get a negative decision?

If you were neither granted asylum and a B-permit nor a provisional admission and an F-permit, your asylum application has been rejected.

In this case, you will be asked to leave Switzerland. You might be returned by force if you do not leave Switzerland within the deadline given to you.

If you think the decision is not correct, you can appeal against it at the Federal Administrative Court. We recommend that you contact your legal representative in the federal reception centre. He or she will explain everything to you and help you with the appeal, unless he or she concludes that an appeal has no chances of success.

If you receive a negative decision and you are not living in a federal reception centre, but in a cantonal centre, then you can contact a legal advice office in this canton for advice. A list of the legal advice offices in Switzerland is available here.

Please be aware of the very tight time limits for such an appeal. If you wish to appeal, we recommend that you contact your legal representative immediately.

In Switzerland, UNHCR generally does not intervene in individual cases and we do not provide individual legal representation nor counselling.


Related information

Where to seek help?