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Swiss S permits to protect Ukraine nationals

25/03/22

Within the last weeks, more than two million people have fled Ukraine to seek shelter in the Schengen zone and Swiss authorities expect this number to rise in the coming weeks and months. To provide rapid protection to Ukraine nationals, the Swiss Federal Council has activated for the first time the S protection status.

Current rules in force allow people entering the Schengen zone to stay as visitors without an entry visa for up to 90 days. Beyond this period, their status must change. Therefore, Switzerland is granting the S protection status to Ukraine nationals. This status, which is an exemption of the ordinary asylum process, offers rapid protection without the administrative burden. 

What exactly is the S status and what protection does it offer?

This status allows Swiss authorities to grant a collective protection to a given group of people for the duration of a threat. In principle, it is limited to one year, but it can be extended if need be.

The S status allows people seeking protection to benefit from family reunions. Therefore, Switzerland has decided to grant this status to any prior legal resident of Ukraine (not only Ukrainian nationals and their families) for whom a return to the country of origin is not possible.

People in possession of the S permit will be able to work in Switzerland. Thus, they will benefit from a full access to the labour market. The Swiss government has decided to grant this right from the beginning.

With this permit, people will also be able to travel and re-enter Switzerland without any issue.

Finally, S permit holders will benefit from health insurance and will, therefore, have access to the Swiss healthcare system. 

What is the process to get the S status?

Swiss authorities aim to facilitate the process and allow S permit seekers to file applications without administrative constraints. The application can be done through a simple application form that can be sent by email to the federal migration authorities. Following receipt, authorities will grant an appointment date to finalise the registration process.

Currently, Swiss authorities are also working on an App to facilitate the process via mobile and are looking into solutions to improve the waiting time to get an appointment.

The application forms and the FAQ available in various languages have been published by the State Secretariat for Migration and can be accessed here.

Summary

Switzerland has followed the European countries in providing protection to victims of the current war happening in Ukraine.

To act rapidly, authorities have decided to grant S status protection by facilitating the admission process and reducing the administrative burden. Currently, more than 1,000 people can be registered daily in federal registration centres. The authorities also put priority in making sure enough accommodation is available to welcome refugees from Ukraine.

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