What is an S permit?
In light of recent developments in Ukraine, Switzerland has been accepting Ukrainian refugees and granting them S permits. The process allows asylum seekers to be protected in a much faster way than going through the usual immigration procedure.
An S permit allows its holder to legally stay in Switzerland provisionally in times of war in their country of origin. The permit is granted for a year but can be renewed. The S permit also allows for family reunification. S permit holders are allowed to work in Switzerland, as employees or as independent workers. The authorities guarantee complete access to the work market and to schools. S permit holders have a right to social assistance and medical care. Furthermore, S permit holders are not subject to any travel restrictions.
The Swiss authorities grant S permits to Ukrainian citizens and their families as well as foreign nationals and stateless people and their families who have a valid Ukrainian residence permit and who are unable to return to their country of origin. The S permit is however limited to people who haven’t received a protected status in another EU country.
How to obtain an S permit as a Ukrainian refugee?
The process to obtain an S permit as a Ukrainian refugee is pretty straightforward.
Within 90 days of their arrival, Ukrainian refugees must submit an application (in person or online) to one of the six federal asylum centers to register for an S permit. The following website will help you find out which centers still have available slots for registration: https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home.html. Submitting the application allows the permit seeker to be covered by health insurance. They will then receive an appointment proposal from the authorities to have their situation examined by a federal asylum center. Each application is examined individually. This can take up to 3 days.
Once they have registered, they will be assigned to a canton. The Swiss Refugee Council (SRC) will assign refugees to private hosts offering accommodation or to cantonal shelters.
While Ukrainian refugees wait for their S permit, they are allowed to stay in Switzerland for up to 90 days without a permit. In case of financial difficulties, they can contact the cantonal authorities. If they need urgent medical assistance before the application for an S permit, the medical costs will be covered by the canton or the federal government.
Steps to obtaining an S permit :
1.Submission of an application to a federal asylum center
2.Registration for an S permit
3.Assignment to a canton
As per this date, Switzerland has already registered more than 7900 people from Ukraine. S permits are granted on an unlimited basis.
The SEM in Bern has set up a hotline "Helping Ukraine" :+41 (0)58 465 99 11 (from 10h to 12h and from 14h to 16h) or you can contact them via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
22/03/22 - Amélia Rauss, immigration trainee at Legal Expat