The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is generally responsible for regulations regarding entry, residence and employment in Switzerland. The FDFA’s limited competency in the specific area of visas is applied by the Swiss Mission’s visa service within the multilateral framework.
As a specialised focal point for International Geneva, as well as an advisory and decision-making structure, the visa service ensures the correct application of Schengen regulations in accordance with Switzerland’s obligations under public international law. Taking into account the political interests of Switzerland as a host state, it manages specific visa applications and facilitates access to “International Geneva” for political figures, holders of a diplomatic, service or special passport, and persons entitled to privileges and immunities.
It works closely with international organisations, relevant permanent missions and the network of Swiss Embassies and Consulates abroad responsible for the issuing of visas.
The activities of the service are based on the following legal instruments:
1. Public international law:
a. The headquarters agreements concluded with the international organisations, SR 0.192 (fr)
b. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, of 1961, SR 0.191.01 (fr)(also applicable by analogy to permanent missions)
c. The Schengen and Dublin agreements that entered into force in 2008
2. Domestic law:
a. The Federal Act on the Privileges, Immunities and Facilities and the Financial Subsidies granted by Switzerland as a Host State, HSA SR 192.12, and its implementing ordinance, the Ordinance to the Federal Act on the Privileges, Immunities and Facilities and the Financial Subsidies granted by Switzerland as a Host State, HSO SR 192.121