Focal point

Residence permits for victims of human trafficking

Once they have been identified as victims of human trafficking and have broken free from the situation of exploitation, those affected face new challenges. A particular burden for the often severely traumatised victims is the absence of a secure residence permit. Short-term residence permits under foreign nationals’ legislation are only granted if the presence of the victim is deemed necessary by the criminal prosecution authorities.

After the expiry of a short-term residence permit, applications for a longer-term residence permit may be rejected despite several years of residence in Switzerland and despite participation in integration measures if, for example, the applicant does not have an employment contract and/or has only a small income and is therefore dependent on social assistance, or if there are no proven obstacles to deportation to the country of origin.

Recommendations of the Plateforme Traite:

Victims of human trafficking should be granted a residence permit that allows them to participate in the entire criminal proceedings as part of a victim’s right to be able to participate in proceedings affecting them. On the basis of Switzerland’s duty to protect, the right to a residence permit should also be granted irrespective of the victim’s cooperation in the criminal investigation and irrespective of the country where the exploitation took place. In addition, the risks in case of returning to the country of origin must be taken into account when considering a long-term residence permit.