Photo: Bernd Konrad/Swiss Refugee Council

Test Procedure

The accelerated procedure being tested in Zurich is designed as a test of the new structure of the asylum system in Switzerland. It is highly significant for the future design of the asylum procedure.

The most important objective of the new approach currently being tested (Art. 112b AsylA) (Test Phases Ordinance (TestO), in French) is to accelerate the asylum procedure while definitely also maintaining the fairness of the procedure. Asylum seekers therefore receive independent procedural advice and free legal counsel for the duration of the procedure.

The procedure is being conducted at an institution designated as a centre of the Confederation (Art. 2 TestO).

Preparatory phase

The procedure begins with a preparatory phase (Art. 16 TestO) of at most 21 days, during which various matters are clarified and the first interview occurs:

  • Recording personal data,
  • Clarifying the travel route,
  • Brief interview on reasons for fleeing, and

A possible granting of a legal hearing on the possible responsibility of another signatory to the Dublin Regulation (Art. 18 TestO)

Fixed cycle phase

If the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) agrees to examine the application for asylum, there is an accelerated asylum procedure, the fixed cycle phase (Art. 17 TestO). It lasts eight to ten workdays and ends either with a decision regarding asylum or with the case being shifted to the expanded procedure where further clarifications can be made (Art. 19 TestO – Procedure outside the test phases). If the SEM decides to reject the application in the accelerated procedure the appeal period is 10 days (Art. 38 TestO).

Safeguarding fairness and constitutionality

To prevent the speed of the proceedings from impairing the fairness and constitutionality of the procedure, various concurrent measures are taken to protect the rights of asylum seekers. 

At the start of the preparatory phase, every asylum seeker receives independent procedural advice and free legal counsel for the entire duration of the test procedure unless he or she explicitly wants to relinquish this right. This assignment of legal counsel is done prior to the first interview and applies throughout the preparatory and fixed cycle phase (Art. 25 para. 1 TestO).

Draft of asylum decision

In the course of the procedure, the legal counsel receives a draft of the intended asylum decision in advance. The counsel has the right to respond to this draft within 24 hours. 

The assigned legal counsel’s role ends with the “decision in the accelerated and in the Dublin procedure obtaining legal force” or with the “decision to conduct a procedure outside the test phases” (Art. 25 para. 3 TestO).

No prospects of success

The assigned legal counsel’s role also ends if the asylum seeker’s legal counsel states that he or she does not want to lodge an appeal because the case has no prospects of success (Art. 25 para. 4 TestO).

The expanded procedure outside the test phases provides for legal counsel according to the general rules in the Asylum Act.