© Keystone/EPA/Stephanie Lecocq
Afghanistan: Useful information concerning people in need of protection
On this page, you will find information on humanitarian visa, resettlement and family reunification regarding yourself or your Afghan relatives, as well as contact information of relevant services.
What does the Swiss Refugee Council do?
The situation in Afghanistan has gotten considerably worse over the course of the last weeks. The Swiss Refugee Council service for country analysis constantly observes the situation, publishes reports on it and makes demands based on recent findings.
Unfortunately, due to the rapidly changing situation, it is currently not always possible to provide reliable information on the specific circumstances on the ground (security situation, which organizations are still working in the field, etc.). However, we are constantly monitoring the situation and adjust our demands and recommendations accordingly.
What does the Swiss Refugee Council not do?
The Swiss Refugee Council cannot take on individual cases.
The Swiss Refugee Council is only active within Switzerland. It is not active in Afghanistan or neighboring countries.
The Swiss Refugee Council is not able to support people in their efforts to exit Afghanistan.
Is Switzerland accepting additional Afghan refugees?
The authorities have not yet made any decision regarding additional resettlement quotas or facilitation of humanitarian visas.
Can one apply for asylum from abroad?
No. Since 2012 (abolition of embassy asylum), it is only possible to apply for asylum if you are in Switzerland.
Can Afghan refugees come to Switzerland via resettlement?
In order to come to Switzerland via resettlement, the persons need to be registered with UNHCR in a neighboring country. Since there are already many refugees there and Switzerland has not yet decided on any additional resettlement places, this is not a realistic option for most of them.
Can Afghan nationals in Switzerland have their family members join them via family reunification?
Unfortunately, it is often not possible to bring relatives to Switzerland via family reunification. Family reunification is only possible for members of the nuclear family (spouse and minor children). In addition, temporarily admitted persons must wait 3 years before they can apply for family reunification, they must be independent from social aid and must have adequate housing.
The only other possibility for relatives to come to Switzerland is to apply for a humanitarian visa.
Can one apply for a humanitarian visa?
Yes, according to the regular regulations.Currently there are no federal guidelines facilitating the entry of persons from Afghanistan into Switzerland except for the staff of the Cooperation Office in Kabul.
Switzerland has a very restrictive policy on issuing humanitarian visas. People with no connection to Switzerland have little chance of obtaining such a visa. In addition, the situation of the persons in Afghanistan must be different from that of the general population. They must therefore have a special risk profile (journalists - artists - employees of the overthrown government – human rights activists - persecution based on their gender - their sexual orientation - their religious beliefs - etc.).
For further information:
- Afghanistan – Risikoprofile – SFH, 30.09.2020 (in German or French)
- Afghanistan - Rückkehrgefährdung aufgrund von «Verwestlichung» - SFH, 26.03.21 (in German or French)
If the persons in Afghanistan have worked for a country other than Switzerland (e.g. USA, UK, etc.) or an international organization, they should contact them directly.
How can I apply for a humanitarian visa?
To make an application, one must go to a Swiss representation. Since there is no Swiss embassy in Kabul, one has to travel to Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan or Uzbekistan to make an official application. Neither the Swiss Refugee Council nor the Swiss Red Cross can assist people in leaving Afghanistan.
If you are able to reach an embassy, you will find all the necessary information on how to apply for a humanitarian visa on this information sheet by the Swiss Red Cross.
Which services can I contact?
The Swiss Red Cross offers advice on humanitarian visas. Further information on humanitarian visas can be found on their website. Their counselling service is currently very busy due to the large number of enquiries. They can only offer their support, if the persons in Afghanistan:
- have a close connection to Switzerland (family or close professional relationship) and
- are under immediate, serious and concrete threat (see risk profile above) and
- have a possibility of leaving the country in the near future.
UNHCR is still active on the ground in Afghanistan and can be contacted here: https://help.unhcr.org/afghanistan/
On ECRE's joint appeal, several Afghan diaspora organizations are named alongside numerous NGOs. Perhaps a contact with one of these organizations could help? NGO-joint-statement-Afghanistan-JULY-2021.pdf (ecre.org)
Asylex provides information on the situation in Afghanistan in different languages: https://asylex.bryter.io/s/MexubeXfRp-azMjchS52vA/afghanistan-evacuation-options-copy
For applications regarding family reunification of members of the nuclear family you may contact the legal consultations service of your canton: https://www.osar.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/Hilfe_fuer_Asylsuchende/Rechtsberatungsstellen/RBSadr_extern.pdf
You did not find the information you were looking for?
You can contact the Swiss Refugee Council’s legal consultation on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons by telephone or e-mail. Due to the currently large number of enquiries, there may be a delay in answering them.