Principles in the Handling of Asylum Applications


The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) processes asylum applications quickly and in a legally correct manner. If an application for asylum is denied, the respective asylum seeker will be removed from Switzerland.

In order to establish an efficient asylum application procedure, the SEM stipulates the categories of asylum seekers that should be given priority. In the case of applications with priority 1 applications – asylum applications that clearly lack adequate justification – processing is handled as rapidly as possible. For priority 2 applications – where the asylum seeker is likely to remain in Switzerland – the oldest cases are handled first. Consequently there is currently a longer waiting period for new applications.

The objectives of this prioritisation system are:

  • Reducing the number of clearly unjustified asylum applications;
  • Easing housing burdens;
  • Minimising the overall costs of the asylum sector.

Accelerated processing of asylum applications and the Dublin procedure

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) introduced accelerated processing of asylum applications (48-hour procedure and fast-track procedure) at asylum centres in 2012. Generally speaking, processing of asylum applications is completed 48 hours after the person has been interviewed for the first time.

The 48-hour procedure is currently used for asylum applications from citizens of the following countries:

  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Georgia
  • Kosovo
  • Macedonia
  • Serbia

The fast-track procedure is used for citizens of the countries below:

  • Algeria
  • Gambia
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Tunisia

A removal order is enforced for failed asylum applications. Since introduction of the 48-hour/fast-track procedure, asylum applications from citizens of these countries of origin have fallen sharply and have remained at a comparably low level. The fast procedures and rapid enforcement have consistently reduced the number of asylum seekers from these countries, whose asylum applications are poorly justified and who are in no need of protection.

In cases where there are indications that the asylum application falls under the authority of another European country, for example, because the individual entered the Dublin Area illegally via a specific European country, Switzerland immediately sends a request to have the asylum seeker transferred to that European country (Dublin Agreement). As soon as the competent Dublin country agrees to the transfer, a decision is rendered without delay and the asylum seeker is returned to that Dublin country. The regulations of the Dublin procedure are generally applied quite quickly.

Consistent removal and return

Asylum seekers who are not granted the right to stay (asylum, temporary residence) are consistently returned to their home country or to their country of origin, in accordance with the law. For Dublin cases, the applicant will be returned to the respective responsible European member state. Switzerland has signed readmission agreements with around 50 countries, simplifying the return process. Under certain circumstances, the asylum seeker will be able to claim return assistance. Return assistance supports the voluntary departure of asylum seekers if their application has been denied and helps these individuals with reintegration in their country of origin. The SEM implements return assistance together with its partners, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the competent cantonal organisations and aid organisations. An application for return assistance can be made in the asylum centres, the temporary federal centres, during airport transit or in the cantons.

Graphic showing the impact of the 48-hour procedure: Number of asylum applications submitted each month by citizens of EU/EFTA member states, visa-exempt European countries as well as Kosovo and Georgia
enlarge_picture Impact of 48-hour procedure: Number of asylum applications submitted each month by citizens of EU/EFTA member states, visa-exempt European countries as well as Kosovo and Georgia

In 2012, a 48-hour procedure was introduced for citizens of Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and can be applied if no further clarification or information regarding an application is necessary. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has also utilised this procedure since 2013 for asylum applications from Kosovo and Georgia. Specifically, this means that:

  • The 48-hour procedure is employed in the asylum centres. Generally speaking, processing of asylum applications is complete 48 hours after the person has been interviewed for the first time;
  • As soon as an asylum application is denied, the substitute travel documents will be obtained and the removal order directly enforced, where this is possible, by the asylum centre;
  • Asylum seekers who are denied asylum and who do not leave Switzerland within the noticed period shall be refused entry (valid for the entire Schengen Area);
  • Asylum seekers whose application for asylum is denied are not given any return assistance, and in principle, do not receive travel money.

Since introduction of the 48-hour procedure, asylum applications from citizens of these countries of origin have fallen sharply and have remained at a comparably low level.

Graphic showing the impact of the fast-track procedure: Number of asylum applications submitted each month by citizens of Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia, Algeria, Gambia and Senegal
enlarge_picture Impact of fast-track procedure: Number of asylum applications submitted each month by citizens of Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia, Algeria, Gambia and Senegal

The fast-track procedure is similar to the 48-hour procedure. The main difference is that it is generally more difficult and time-consuming to enforce a removal order or obtain identification documents for citizens of the countries concerned. Asylum seekers who, after being denied asylum, are unwilling to return to their home countries, are nevertheless entitled to receive emergency aid. Currently, the fast-track procedure is used for citizens of countries for which asylum applications are statistically the least successful: Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia, Algeria, Gambia and Senegal.

Introduction of the fast-track procedure in May 2013 also resulted in a steady decline in the number of new asylum applications from these countries.

  

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