Easing of visa requirements for relatives of Syrian nationals living in Switzerland

Keywords: Asylum | Visa

Press Release, The Federal Council, 04.09.2013

Bern. Given the dramatic situation in Syria, the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, has ordered an easing of visa requirements for relatives of Syrian nationals living in Switzerland. Effective immediately, entry visas for relatives of Syrian nationals living in Switzerland will now be issued more quickly and simply.

As early as July of last year, the visa application process had already been eased somewhat in response to the Syrian crisis for specific categories of persons from Syria. An evaluation conducted in the spring of 2013 nevertheless revealed that few people were able to benefit from this measure. For this reason, the head of the FDJP, Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, has ordered that the easing of visa requirements be extended to a broader group of persons from the Syrian crisis region.

Easing of visa requirements for a broader group of family members

The easing of visa requirements applies to persons from the Syrian crisis region Syria whose relatives already live in Switzerland (holders of a type B residence permit, holders of a type C settlement permit or naturalised Swiss citizens). Family reunification no longer applies solely to members of the nuclear family (spouses and children up to age 18) but rather has been extended to other relatives in ascending and descending order: i.e. grandparents, parents, children over the age of 18 and grandchildren. The easing of visa requirements also applies to brothers and sisters of Syrian nationals living in Switzerland as well as to the members of their nuclear family.

The Federal Office for Migration (FOM), in consultation with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and cantonal migration authorities, has issued corresponding directives to ease visa requirements. Entry visas will now be issued to anyone who is able to credibly and clearly demonstrate that he/she is a relative of a Syrian national living in Switzerland. This measure applies even if the visa applicant is unable to produce official civil status documents due to the difficult situation in Syria. In addition, visa applicants no longer need to meet the adequate financial resources criterion stipulated in the Foreign Nationals Act (SR 142.20).

Persons whose relatives already live in Switzerland and who have already submitted an application for asylum in Switzerland (when this was still possible) will be informed that they may now apply for a visa.

The Schengen Agreement and national provisions do not prohibit such an easing of visa requirements: individual Schengen states have the right, specifically on humanitarian grounds, to depart from established entry requirements and authorise entry onto their own national territory.

Switzerland continues to provide aid on the ground

Switzerland continues in its efforts to alleviate humanitarian suffering on the ground. Acting through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Switzerland has already allocated a total of CHF 30 million since the crisis broke out. This funding has been used to provide humanitarian aid to the affected population. An additional CHF 20 million has already been earmarked for additional aid.

Information on the easing of visa requirements for private individuals

T +41 31 325 95 29
aufenthalt@bfm.admin.ch

 

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For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian

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