In response to the increasingly dramatic situation in Syria in the late summer and to the threat of the conflict taking on an international dimension, the Swiss authorities decided at the beginning of September to ease visa requirements as a fast and non-bureaucratic way to facilitate the temporary and lawful stay in Switzerland of war-afflicted Syrians with family in the country. In addition to visa facilitation, Switzerland affirmed its humanitarian commitment by providing aid on the ground and admitting groups of refugees.
A proven and effective temporary measure
Relatives of Syrians in Switzerland have made extensive use of visa facilitation. A total of 719 people ‒ including 475 women and children ‒ have so far entered Switzerland since the measure was introduced. Of these 719, 385 have submitted an asylum application. The Swiss authorities have issued approximately 1,600 visas, and a further 5,000 people have an appointment at a Swiss foreign mission to submit a visa application. The measure has therefore proven effective and fulfilled its purpose. In the last few weeks, however, there have been certain difficulties in implementing the directive: the large volume of visa applications has resulted in delays of several months in certain Swiss missions, especially in Istanbul, which is not consistent with the direct and temporary nature of the directive. The pending visa applications will be processed as rapidly as possible according to the directive of 4 September 2013 and its explanatory note of 12 November 2013. Despite the lifting of the directive, Syrians in Switzerland will still be able to bring members of the family nucleus to Switzerland, as was the case before the directive was issued. And people who face danger to life or limb can be granted a humanitarian visa for Switzerland under the existing legislative framework.
Address for enquiries:
Agnès Schenker, Information Service FDJP, T +41 31 322 40 05