Residence status

Residence status

Persons who applied for asylum in Switzerland receive a different legal status depending on the outcome of their asylum procedure. Their status determines the rights and the support they are able to access. We are committed to ensuring that recognised refugees and temporarily admitted persons in Switzerland have equal opportunities to participate in economic, social and cultural life.

Permits available under asylum law

Persons who applied for asylum in Switzerland can obtain

Asylum-seeker permit (N permit)

As long as they are in a Federal Asylum Centre, asylum seekers receive a confirmation document as proof of registration. As soon as they are assigned to a canton, they receive an N permit. This is not a residence permit but a confirmation that the person concerned has applied for asylum in Switzerland and is awaiting a decision by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). Special provisions apply to airport procedures.

Recognized refugees (granting of asylum) (B permit)

If an asylum seeker has plausibly demonstrated that he/she has been persecuted in the country of origin in a manner consistent with asylum law and under the Geneva Convention, he/she will be recognised as a refugee and granted asylum. Recognised refugees who have been granted asylum receive a B permit.

Recognized refugees (temporary admission as a refugee) (F permit)

If a person who qualifies as a refugee under international law has no grounds to be considered a refugee under the Swiss Asylum Act, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) will reject the asylum application and it will issue a formal order for expulsion from Switzerland. Under international law, however, expulsion in this case is inadmissible since Art. 33 (1) of the Geneva Refugee Convention establishes the «non-refoulement principle» (no expulsion if there is a risk of persecution).  Therefore, the expulsion will be postponed and the person may temporarily be admitted into Switzerland as a refugee. This person will receive an F permit noting their refugee status.

Temporarily admitted foreigners (F permit)

The SEM will reject the asylum application if the asylum seeker’s persecution in their country makes them ineligible for asylum and does not meet the status of a refugee under the Geneva Refugee Convention. However, the SEM will issue an order for temporary admission if it subsequently concludes that a return to the country of origin is unlawful, unreasonable or impossible, e.g. due to an ongoing conflict. The asylum seeker will receive an F permit as a foreigner.

Rejected asylum seekers

If the asylum seeker’s persecution in his/her country of origin is deemed implausible, this makes them ineligible for asylum. In addition to this, if there are no grounds to prevent their expulsion to the country of origin, the SEM will issue an expulsion order and set a deadline by which the asylum seeker must leave Switzerland. Rejected asylum seekers have no entitlement to a permit under the law. In some cantons, rejected asylum seekers are allowed to keep the N permit or might be issued with a temporary permit. Rejected asylum seekers have a guaranteed right to emergency assistance until they leave the country.

Vulnerable persons (S permit)

This legal status was introduced to react appropriately, quickly and pragmatically to large-scale refugee situations, but it has never been put into practice. Vulnerable persons receive an S permit granting them temporary residence in Switzerland. The S permit is not a residence permit.

Permits available under asylum law and key status rights

This document provides an overview of the permits available under asylum law and the key status rights that apply to holders of these permits.

Swiss special case: «Temporary admission»

Temporarily admitted persons and recognised refugees require the same level of protection, and experience shows that they tend to stay in Switzerland for the long term. As such «temporary admission» status is unfit for purpose. We are committed to ensuring that persons who are temporarily admitted into Switzerland are able to quickly integrate into society and are able to access the labour market.