Switzerland

Legal status and visa requirements for those who were forced to leave Ukraine

General information and legal support within Switzerland

  • Ukrainian nationals and persons of other nationalities as well as stateless persons with a residence permit of residence in Ukraine who are leaving Ukraine because of the war and are seeking protection (Status ‘S’ – ‘Schutzsuchende’), can currently enter Switzerland legally.
  • Ukrainian nationals who were forced to leave Ukraine don’t need a visa for entry and stay in Switzerland;
  • Persons with the so-called ‘protection status S’ have a right of residence in Switzerland, may join their family members, engage in gainful employment and are entitled to asylum social assistance and medical care.
  • With protection status, the persons concerned receive an ‘S permit’ and do not have to go through a bureaucratic asylum procedure.  ‘Protection status S’ allows for fast and uncomplicated support for Ukrainian refugees in the country.
  • People from Ukraine do not have to go through an asylum procedure. They can work, have health insurance, and send their children to school.

Refugee status/ asylum seeker status/ temporary protection status

  • To receive benefits (medical, social), registration is required, It is recommended that all persons seeking protection who have already entered Switzerland and have not yet registered submit their application via the online platform RegisterMe of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).  Once the application has been submitted, the person seeking protection is covered by health insurance. The person seeking protection then receives written confirmation from the SEM that the application for temporary protection has been submitted. The SEM will then make an appointment for them to visit a federal asylum centre. There, the application for temporary protection is examined and a decision is taken, and confirmation of protection status S (S-Card) is issued. Subsequently, the protection seekers are assigned to a canton.;
  • The registration as an asylum seeker can be performed, the process is normally fast: Registration (personal data, fingerprints) and short interview at the BAZ (Bundesasylzentren) points, then the decision on granting protection. Procedures in Switzerland are conducted in six asylum regions. Each region has one federal asylum centre with a procedural function (decisions on asylum) and up to four federal asylum centres without a procedural function (no decisions on asylum).
  • Since 1 March 2019, the Asylum Act provides free legal protection during the asylum procedure. Both in the federal asylum centres and when the procedure is continued in a canton, asylum seekers can obtain free legal advice and representation from an authorised office that is independent of the authorities.
  • On behalf of the State Secretariat for Migration and in cooperation with Swiss Refugee Aid and Campax, Caritas Switzerland arranges suitable places in the federal asylum centres in Boudry in the canton of Neuchâtel and Bern (together with the Salvation Army) for refugees who wish to stay with host families. In Boudry, Caritas Switzerland also provides legal representation for persons entering the ordinary asylum procedure (in addition to protection status S). Some regional Caritas organisations are already active in providing support and advice to host families on behalf of the cantons.

Learn more about stay in Switzerland:

RegisterMe platform: registerme.admin.ch 

Download registration application via website: www.sem.admin.ch 

FAQ in Ukrainian: www.sem.admin.ch/ukraine
And downloads information sheets in Ukrainian 

Helpline Ukraine:
+41 (0)58 465 99 11,
daily from 10-12 and 14-16.
And E-Mail: ukraine@sem.admin.ch

Official Info site in Ukrainian: www.sem.admin.ch/a-u-h.html and in Russian: www.sem.admin.ch/ukraine-hilfe 

Information for Ukrainian persons: www.fluechtlingshilfe.ch (Ukr language available) 

Information from City of Zurich www.stadt-zuerich.ch 

Flyer in German, Ukrainian and Russian Download from AOZ:
www.stadt-zuerich.ch/h-u-r-d
  

AOZ Hotline for questions about arrival and the current situation in the canton of Zurich.
079 942 62 59 / 079 729 56 23
by phone, SMS or WhatsApp 

Information resource for Ukrainian refugees by Swiss Red Cross:
www.infobox-migration.ch
 (Ukr language available) 

Alliance Insurance has created a toll-free Hotline to support communication between helpers and refugees (German, Ukrainian and Russian):
+41 (0)58 3585000

>> Find information by Canton (regulations are different from Canton to Canton):
>> Legal support – download list here: www.fluechtlingshilfe.ch

Altstätten (SG), Asylregion Ostschweiz:

HEKS-Rechtsschutz

Bern (BE), Asylregion Bern:

Rechtsschutz für Asylsuchende

    Bundesasylzentrum Region Bern
    Morillonstrasse 75
    3007 Bern

    058 481 09 36

    info.be@rbsbern.ch

Chiasso (TI), Regione d’asilo Ticino e Svizzera Centrale

SOS-Ticino Protezione giuridica

    Via 1. Agosto
    Casella postale 1328
    6830 Chiasso

    058 484 97 00

Boudry (NE), Région d’asile Romandie

Protection juridique Caritas Suisse

Basel (BS), Asylregion Nordwestschweiz

HEKS-Rechtsschutz

Zürich (ZH), Asylregion Zürich

Rechtsschutz für Asylsuchende

    Bundesasylzentrum Region Zürich
    Förrlibuckstrasse 110
    8005 Zürich

    058 480 14 68

    info.zh@rbsbern.ch

Access to healthcare services

Fees

As soon as a person in need of protection reports to a federal asylum centre and applies for protection status S (see below) there, he or she will be registered for compulsory health insurance by the canton after cantonal allocation, with retroactive effect to the date on which the application was submitted. The costs for premiums and cost-sharing (deductible rate and retention) are subsidised to the cantons by the Confederation with the payment of the global lump sums.

In many cases, the doctor settles the bill directly with the health insurance fund via the doctors’ fund. Otherwise, the bills must be forwarded to the Cantonal Social Service. The invoices should not be sent directly to the health insurer by the insured person.

If a person in need requires immediate medical assistance even before applying for S protection status and has no health insurance, the public authorities will cover the costs. This also applies to dental emergencies.

Where can the Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine go for the following healthcare services?

The instructions of the authority in charge in the canton where they are assigned are decisive. They explain to those seeking protection who they should contact in the event of illness, accident, psychological problems, or pregnancy. Please, refer to the list of respective canton authorities in the previous section.

The general information on medical care for Ukrainian persons from the Swiss State Secretary of Migration is available on the website: www.sem.admin.ch

The Swiss Ministry of Health has published a guide through the Swiss health system. The Health Guide helps people, especially migrants, to find their way around the complex Swiss health system. It explains patients’ rights and obligations as well as the legal basis. It also contains references to important contact points and information on health care for particularly vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers.

Services for People Living with HIV

HIV-testing

  • Testing is free of charge for persons with S protection status, as the status means that the persons are medically insured.
  • Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine can get HIV testing at AIDS-Hilfe service points throughout the country ( map embedded), at doctors‘ practices, laboratories as well as at Test sites and treatment centres.
  • If tested positive, please, contact one of the Swiss AIDS Hilfe (support) counselling center for further referral to a specialist.
  • In Switzerland, HIV care is provided in the infectious diseases departments of hospitals or in specialised medical practices. 

More information: aids.ch

Antiretroviral treatment (ART)

  • People on ART can bring their own medication up to the amount of one month’s supply into the country. If the stay in Switzerland lasts longer, the person must go to a doctor in Switzerland to obtain the additional medication. Travellers may carry medicines containing narcotics or psychotropic substances without an import permit only if it is for personal use. The condition is that the quantity carried does not exceed the requirement for 30 days.
  • Those seeking help can contact the practices directly in the infectious diseases departments of hospitals in specialised medical practices. It is often easier to contact a Swiss AIDS Hilfe (AIDS support) counselling centre link embedded which can help with referrals.
  • HIV-positive persons who inject drugs, can receive ART in Switzerland. Anamnesis and therapy planning should be clarified by specialised doctors best contacted via AIDS-Hilfe service points.

How can minors get treatment?

Minors can get tested and get ART. However, parental permission may be required.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

PrEP is prescribed by a doctor. There are costs to be paid for the counselling, monitoring, and medication. PrEP medication must be taken under medical supervision to avoid medical complications such as kidney damage and to ensure that all appropriate regular tests (e.g. for sexually transmitted infections) are carried out.

Learn more on PrEP

List of contact points where PrEP is available for a low price: www.swissprepared.ch

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)

PEP is recommended immediately after a possible/probable infection e.g. if a partner is HIV-positive (without therapy) and the condom breaks or in case of an accident, a puncture wound, contaminated syringes etc. It is free of charge if it is medically indicated (covered by compulsory health insurance) and there is no minimum age for receiving post-exposure prophylaxis. PEP must be started within the first 48 hours after possible infection – the earlier, the safer the protection. As a rule, the drug is taken for 4 weeks.

Services for People Living with Hepatitis B or C

Hepatitis B or C testing, hepatitis B vaccination, and hepatitis B or C treatment availability

Health insurance in Switzerland covers the cost of testing and vaccination as well as hepatitis B or C medication. You can go directly to a health professional and receive treatment. The easiest way is to contact Hepatitis Switzerland (knowledge of Russian available). They will put you in touch with a specialist. Since the beginning of 2022, all doctors can prescribe all medicines for hepatitis C therapy, provided there is an appropriate diagnosis.

Hepatitis Switzerland
Schützengasse 31
CH-8001 Zurich
+41 58 360 50 00
info@hepatitis-schweiz.ch

More info for Ukrainians at aids.ch

Addiction support facilities can also help. They can be found at Infodrog (map-search for drug services): suchtindex.infodrog.ch  

In the greater Zurich area, you can contact the Arud Centre for Addiction Medicine directly arud.ch

Health insurance covers hepatitis B vaccination for children and hepatitis A for special risk groups. The costs of the hepatitis A vaccination are covered by the health insurance for all persons with an increased risk of hepatitis A. 

Map-search for test and counselling centres: hep-check.ch  

Map-search for drug services (also in Liechtenstein): suchtindex.infodrog.ch

Treatment options available for hepatitis related liver diseases

Since the beginning of 2022, all doctors can prescribe all medicines for hepatitis C therapy, provided there is an appropriate diagnosis. 

Map-search for test and counselling centres: hep-check.ch

Support systems (harm reduction/safer use, social support, or psychosocial support) available for the Ukrainians undergoing therapy for hepatitis C or related liver diseases

In most places in Switzerland, there are addiction support facilities that also offer syringe exchange and psychosocial support. HEP-positive people can also find counselling for further help there. List of services (incl. Syringe exchange machines). www.suchtindex.infodrog.ch

Tuberculosis services

If the person has TB symptoms:

TB screening is voluntary upon arrival. The screening method available in Switzerland is the survey with the online questionnaire “tb-screen”. This instrument is now also available in Ukrainian: www.tb-screen.ch 

In case of a positive TB screen (10 and more points), a medical referral for clinical examination, chest radiology and, in case of an abnormal X-ray, sputum analysis for X-pert MTB/RIF is recommended. In pregnant women, an Interferon-γ-Release-Assays (IGRA), is recommended before a chest X-ray. In general, an HIV test is also recommended after confirmation of tuberculosis. List of TB contact centres across all cantons: www.tbinfo.ch

If TB was already diagnosed in Ukraine and the person needs to continue treatment:

  • If a Ukrainian who was forced to leave Ukraine has symptoms of TB (e.g. cough, fever, weight loss), they should report it as soon as possible to the local health department.  
  • All the services mentioned above are relevant for those:
    • who are on directly observed treatment (DOT)/ video directly observed treatment (VDOT); or
    • those who started the TB treatment for multidrug-resistant TB in Ukraine and need to continue in Switzerland.

More Info here: www.lungenliga.ch

Non-medical support

The various types of support, like food, shelter, and psychological support are offered to all Ukrainians through the asylum centres (see list of centres in Section 1) – as well as screening/testing and referral to other specialized services.

If a person has a Ukrainian prescription for TB treatment medicine…

A foreign prescription is not valid in Switzerland and cannot be billed to the health insurance company. A foreign prescription is probably a good indication a person needs the medicine, so  the prescription from Ukraine should be presented to the asylum centres in order to obtain a valid prescription.

More information at: pharmama.ch

Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination for children

BCG vaccination is only recommended for newborns and children < 1 year whose parents come from countries with a high prevalence of TB, and who might return permanently or temporarily to these countries. If  a child needs the BCG vaccine, please contact staff at the asylum centres (or whatever may be applicable).

New BCG guidelines for Switzerland, download here: www.neonet.ch

Please note: Local health offices are government centres and private practitioners are also available. Treatment is available in hospitals (government, private or NGO run) and psychosocial care for patients is sometimes also offered.

Useful links to browse more on TB treatment within Switzerland for Ukrainians:

Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) Services

Medication rules

People entering Switzerland (including Ukrainians) are only allowed to bring their take-home OAT  oral medication for a maximum of 30 days and only for personal use (no transporting for friends). They need to have proof of prescription from at least the prescribing doctor (including dosage and translated into German or English) and/or a copy of their medical records or insight into their medical history. This also includes medicines containing narcotics or psychotropic substances (Art. 41 Narcotics Control Ordinance). If the stay in Switzerland lasts longer, the person must go to a doctor in Switzerland to obtain further medication.

What OAT drugs are available in the country?

Methadone, buprenorphine, retarded morphine or L-Polamidon.

See details at the website arud.ch

OAT treatment fees

Access to substitution treatment in Switzerland is covered by health insurance. Treatment is provided by general practitioners, hospitals, psychiatric services, and specialised institutions. Information on services for people who use drug and substitution doctors is available at Infodrog suchtindex.infodrog.ch  

To get free of charge OAT medication, patients should contact counselling services to find a doctor who will consult on the current patient limits in doctors’ practices and outpatient clinics and free slots available for Ukrainian citizens.  

Search for local addiction support facilities here: suchtindex.infodrog.ch

Take-home dosages availability

It is possible if the doctor decides that this is feasible.
More information www.praxis-suchtmedizin.ch

Minimum age for people who use drugs to receive OAT

There is no minimum age so minors can also receive OAT.

Useful links to follow on OAT:

Sources

General requirements and access to healthcare

HIV

Hepatitis B/C

TB

OAT