I am without (residency) papers

Like you, there are thousands of children and youth living in Switzerland without legal status, meaning “without (residency) papers”. Here is some important information.

Going to school

In Switzerland, basic education is free and open to all children. Access to mandatory education (primary and secondary school) is also guaranteed for children without (residency) papers. It is very important to enroll and attend school as it is a place to learn, get to know other children or adolescents and feel in security. As you get near your 15th birthday and therefore the end of mandatory schooling, you should contact your school orientation councillor. He will evaluate essential future prospects with you.

Do training

If you wish to continue studies after mandatory schooling and your marks permit, you can attend college (high-school) or university. Access to apprenticeships or professional training is more problematic as is requires a work permit which persons without legal status do not have. Following initiatives launched by a number of politicians and organizations, the subject of access to apprenticeships is now being debated at the political level.

Various initiatives by Swiss politicians and organizations have seen success. Since February 1, 2013, undocumented youth can do an apprenticeship under certain conditions (having attended public school in Switzerland for at least five years and be well integrated, including mastering a national language and respect for public order).

I have a health problem

In case of health problems, you have the right to treatment which is a fundamental right and independent of your status. Do not forget that all professionals (doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers) are bound by confidentiality. They are not allowed to divulge information about your situation.

Who can I ask for help?

You can address, at any time or with any question, the without (residency) papers support centre in your canton. These centres have knowledgeable staff familiar with the different laws and services at your disposal. If you have a specific problem, they can refer you to the proper service.