Humanitarian Visas

Only a very small number of humanitarian visas are currently being issued in Switzerland. Here you will find all the important information on humanitarian visas.

A humanitarian visa can be issued if someone is seriously and concretely under a direct threat to life and limb. The person must be in a special emergency situation. This situation can entail acts of war or direct individual endangerment.

Hardly any chance of obtaining a humanitarian visa

In principle, the application for a humanitarian visa must be submitted in person at a Swiss diplomatic representation abroad. Since only very few humanitarian visas are being issued and the chances of obtaining such a visa are therefore slim, it is extremely important for people to weigh the risks associated with an application (e.g. travel to a neighboring country if there is not an open Swiss diplomatic representation in their country of origin).

No longer in danger if staying in a third country

If someone is already in a third country (i.e. in a country other than one’s country of origin), the authorities generally assume that the person is no longer in danger. As a rule, a humanitarian visa is therefore not issued to individuals who have already left their country of origin. Individuals from a country without an open Swiss diplomatic representation therefore have hardly any chances of obtaining a humanitarian visa and therefore hardly any chances of entering Switzerland legally.

SEM directive on humanitarian visas from 25 February 2014 (in French)

Information on applying for a humanitarian visa

In principle, the application must be submitted in person at a Swiss diplomatic representation abroad. As a rule, an appointment must be arranged for this purpose. E-mail is the easiest way to do so. You can find out the contact details for the various Swiss embassies abroad here.

In your e-mail, state that you are applying for a humanitarian visa and indicate the persons for whom you wish to make the application (last name, first name, date of birth). Also list any family members in Switzerland, if there are any.

On making the appointment for the diplomatic representation, you will also be sent a questionnaire.  You must fill out this questionnaire together with the Schengen visa application form and bring them to the appointment with you. If you have to leave your country of origin first before you can keep the appointment at the diplomatic representation and file an application for a humanitarian visa, you should definitely say so in the questionnaire.

Here you will find the Schengen visa application form for a humanitarian visa

In Item 21 “Main purpose(s) of the journey” you must check “Other”. You must then specify that this visa application is for humanitarian reasons and provide information about your concrete situation if possible with evidence and identity documents.

Basically speaking, no fees are charged for humanitarian visas. Nonetheless, the authorities might charge visa fees for applications they consider to be obviously unfounded or to be multiple applications without any change in the facts of the case.

An objection to a rejection of a visa application by the Swiss diplomatic representation can be filed with the State Secretariat for Migration within 30 days. The State Secretariat for Migration can demand an advance on costs of 200 Swiss francs for a ruling that is subject to appeal. The amount depends on the number of visa applicants.

For further questions, please contact the State Secretariat for Migration.