Asylum seekers arriving in Switzerland are initially received at accommodation and provisioning centres run by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). The welcome includes registration of their personal details, incl. the taking of passport photos, fingerprints as well as a medical examination at the border (e.g. filling out of a detailed questionnaire and if necessary medical treatment). Around 75% of asylum seekers lack official identity papers when they submit their application. This makes identification difficult, if not impossible. In cases where the asylum application is unjustified or abusive, but also in cases where the asylum application is entirely justified, a fast-track procedure will be applied. Increasingly, first-instance decisions on asylum (as well as enforcement of removal orders) are reached at the accommodation and provisioning centre. Switzerland has also signed readmission agreements with all neighbouring countries. The maximum stay at an accommodation and provisioning centre is 90 days. Asylum seekers whose application cannot be decided at the accommodation and provisioning centre will be assigned to a canton for the entire duration of processing of their application. Asylum seekers are assigned according to a distribution ratio calculated on the basis of population size. The asylum seeker will receive accommodation and support from the authorities of the host canton. In the case of asylum applications that cannot be processed or that have been rejected, asylum seekers will only receive minimal emergency aid from the cantonal authorities. All asylum seekers at an accommodation and provisioning centre are entitled to seek non-binding and confidential return assistance counselling, which may include return travel arrangements as well as financial assistance to facilitate reintegration in the home country.
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