According to Federal Law, children under the age of 15 years are exempt from immigration detention in Switzerland. Additionally, Swiss Cantons have relevant cantonal legislation which leads to different practices at the cantonal level.
When arriving in Switzerland, asylum seeking children, whether travelling with their families or unaccompanied, are placed in Federal reception and processing centres run by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). These centres impose restrictions on liberty. This period of initial reception in the centres can take up to three months and according to the Ordinance currently under ongoing consultations, this period could be increased to a maximum of 140 days.
Switzerland is currently undergoing restructuring of the asylum system, and has displayed a political commitment to end child immigration detention at the international level. The Government of Switzerland could become a world leader on this issue if further changes were made to domestic provisions at federal and cantonal level.