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Afghanistan: Useful information for people in need of protection
Below, you will find information on humanitarian visas, resettlement and family reunification, as well as contact information for relevant services and organisations.
What the Swiss Refugee Council (SRC) does
The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated significantly in recent times. The SRC has been monitoring the situation in Afghanistan for several years. It regularly publishes reports and calls on authorities to take what is happening in Afghanistan into consideration when processing requests for asylum.
Unfortunately, due to the rapidly changing situation, it isn’t always possible to provide up to date information about the specific circumstances on the ground (security situation, which organisations are still operating in the country, etc.). However, we will continue to observe the situation on an ongoing basis and adjust our demands and recommendations accordingly.
What the Swiss Refugee Council (SRC) does not do
- The SRC cannot take on individual cases.
- The SRC is only active in Switzerland. It does not operate in Afghanistan or neighbouring countries.
- The SRC supports people in their efforts to leave Afghanistan by providing reliable, up to date information about the legal and organisational framework in Switzerland to those who wish to travel to Switzerland and apply for asylum.
Is Switzerland accepting any additional Afghan refugees?
Afghan refugees can apply for asylum after reaching Switzerland. They can do so as long as they haven’t already submitted an application in a country that is party to the Dublin Regulation. More information about the Swiss asylum procedure can be found on our dedicated page.
There are currently no measures in place to make it easier for Afghans to obtain visas.
Can I apply for asylum in Switzerland from abroad?
No. Since 2012, when the option to apply for asylum from Swiss embassies was abolished, it has only been possible to submit an application for asylum if you are already in Switzerland.
Can Afghan nationals be admitted to Switzerland through resettlement?
Officially, Switzerland takes part in the resettlement programme, which allows it to admit a certain number of refugees who are in need of special protection and are living in a precarious situation in their country of first asylum. In practice, however, this programme was suspended on 1 April 2023, meaning that Afghan refugees cannot currently be admitted to Switzerland under this programme.
Please also note that to be eligible for resettlement to Switzerland, you must already be registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in a neighbouring country.
Can Afghan nationals bring their family members to Switzerland?
Unfortunately, it is often not possible to bring relatives to Switzerland through family reunification. Swiss law states that only immediate – or “nuclear” – family members (spouse and minor children) are eligible for family reunification. Following a change in past practice, however, people who have been granted temporary admission to Switzerland (F permit) can now apply for family reunification after a shorter period of time than before, i.e. after a period of two years. The State Secretariat for Migration must assess the cases affected by this change. However, temporarily admitted persons face other challenges in obtaining family reunification (acceptance may be based on independence from social assistance, access to suitably large accommodation and the linguistic abilities of the person to be resettled). Recent judgments by the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights), have criticised Switzerland’s restrictive approach to family reunification, and it is hoped that this will spark a change in current practice.
Another way in which relatives can be admitted to Switzerland is for them to apply for a humanitarian visa.
Can I apply for a humanitarian visa?
Yes, according to the standard regulations.
However, Switzerland has a highly restrictive policy on issuing humanitarian visas. People with no connection to Switzerland have very little chance of obtaining such a visa. Applicants for a humanitarian visa must also be living in a more vulnerable situation than the general Afghan population. They must therefore fulfil a specific risk profile (for example, by being a journalist, artist, employee of the overthrown government, woman or young girl, member of the LGBTQI+ community, human rights activist, member of a religious minority, etc.).
For more information, please refer to the following documents:
- Afghanistan – risk profile – SRC, 2 November 2022 (in German or French)
- Afghanistan: risks of returning linked to “westernisation” – OSAR 26 March 2021
If a member of your family has worked for a country other than Switzerland (the USA or France, for example) or an international organisation, they should contact them directly.
How do I apply for a humanitarian visa?
To submit an application for a humanitarian visa, you must first visit a Swiss representation. As there is no Swiss embassy in Kabul, those wishing to submit an official application have to travel to Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan or Uzbekistan.
The following criteria must be met in order to have any chance of obtaining a humanitarian visa:
- The individual’s life or physical integrity must be directly, seriously and tangibly endangered in their home country or country of origin.
- The individual is clearly in direct danger and not merely at risk because they belong to a potentially endangered group.
- The individual no longer has any other options and is in a situation of distress that requires the urgent intervention of the Swiss authorities.
To access the list of criteria to take into consideration, please visit the Swiss Red Cross website.
UNHCR is still operating on the ground and can be contacted here.
Asylex provides information about the situation in Afghanistan in several languages
To apply for family reunification for nuclear family members, you may contact the legal advice services in your canton. For more information, please see the following document.
Following this link you will find a collection of information on evacuation programmes, protection and access to asylum in Europe for Afghans since August 2021; this list has been compiled by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) in collaboration with SRC.
If this information has not answered your questions, please do not hesitate to contact the SRC legal consultation service . Due to the large number of enquiries, it may not be possible to reply to you immediately.
More information on Switzerland’s policy toward Afghan refugees and asylum seekers can be found here:
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