Are you eligible for a Swiss work permit in 2023?

Obtaining a Swiss work permit depends on many factors, including where you are from, your skills, and your quotas. Switzerland has a dual system to allow foreigners to work in Switzerland.

The first concerns European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) citizens, who are usually allowed three months to find work in Switzerland. If the job search is more active, this period can be extended to six months.

The second is for citizens of all other countries (known as “third countries”). Citizens from these countries must obtain a sponsored work contract from an employer and the appropriate work visa before entering Switzerland. There needs to be more than just a job offer to guarantee a license.

Dependents of the permit holder are also permitted to stay and reside in Switzerland, regardless of nationality. Family members include spouses, children under the age of 21, or relatives in custody or care, regardless of age.

The state authorities issue licenses.

EU/EFTA citizens can benefit from the Free Movement of Persons Agreement, enacted in 2002 and updated several times. The agreement generally allows citizens to enter, reside, find work, or establish their self-care status. Entry into the labor market by citizens of Bulgaria and Romania is regulated by special provisional regulations applicable until 2016.

However, a public vote on February 9, 2014, in favor of the reintroduction of Swiss immigration quotas, meant that the country had until 2017 to renegotiate a bilateral agreement with the EU on the free movement of people, or it would have to be canceled.

Work permits in EU/EFTA countries can be divided into several categories and are defined by letters. Here’s what they mean:

L: short term

The length of the employment contract determines the period of validity of the permit. Still, usually, it ranges between 3 and 12 months and is issued to persons intending to work in Switzerland for less than a year. EU/EFTA nationals also receive this permit when looking for work within three months of entering Switzerland. Allows you to change your place of residence (province) and job.

If you plan to work in Switzerland for less than three months per year, you may not need a permit. Under certain conditions, EU/EFTA citizens working in Switzerland, persons working for the state, and workers from other countries employed by companies in EU/EFTA countries, whose prominent position is in Switzerland, can take advantage of the online registration procedure. It only applies to employment in Switzerland for a maximum of three months per year and must be completed before someone starts working for the Swiss employer.

The exact prerequisites for this process depend on the worker’s nationality and where the company is sending the worker. The Federal Office for Migration has documents specifically for this purpose.

B: First Residence Permit

This settlement permit is issued to persons in an unlimited employment relationship or for at least 12 months. It is valid for five years and is automatically extended for five years as long as the employment relationship continues. If someone has been laid off for more than 12 months, the extension may be limited to one year. People who live here without being employed (providing proof they have sufficient means) can also get a B permit.

People who wish to be self-employed can also obtain a B permit, valid for five years, and must provide proof that they can meet the self-employment requirements after making ends meet.

C: Permanent Residence Permit

Nationals from the 15 old EU countries and EFTA countries can obtain a C permit, valid for an unlimited period, after completing a regular and uninterrupted five-year residence permit in Switzerland. This permit allows the holder to change places of residence (provinces) freely and employers.

G: Commuting across borders

Foreigners living in border areas and working in Switzerland can obtain a G permit, although this is no longer necessary for most EU/EFTA nationals. (Treaties with neighboring countries establish border areas.) All cross-border commuters must return to their principal foreign residence at least twice a week.

Non-EU/EFTA nationals

Workers from so-called third countries – neither EU member states nor Switzerland – must hold a work permit. The rules for obtaining this license are significantly stricter than most Europeans and are often directly related to employment. Getting a job offer is just one small step toward getting a license.

Third-country nationals are only allowed to work in Switzerland if the employer cannot hire people in the Swiss labor market or an EU/EFTA country. Employers must show that they have gone to great lengths to find a Swiss, EU/EFTA national, or foreign national with a work permit. In addition, employers must show why those who can apply for the preference are unsuitable for the job.

Those with the best chance of being granted a license include managers, specialists, and other highly qualified personnel, meaning those with a university degree and professional experience have more opportunities. Applicants may also be required to know one of the official languages.

Joint ventures, temporary teaching positions, managers or specialists, highly qualified scientists, and particular jobs involving the arts and culture may also be granted work permits under particular circumstances.

There is no limit to how long this process can take, but typically, simple cases with proper documentation and no follow-up requirements (such as moving a top manager) can take as little as three weeks. In other cases, it may last for several months.

Work permits can be divided into several categories and are defined by letters. Here’s what they mean:

L: short-term residence permit

This permit can be issued to people who have worked in Switzerland for a maximum of one year. It is closely related to the employment contract and can be extended, in exceptional cases, for up to 24 months if the holder works for the same employer. Other short-term stays are for continuing education and training in Switzerland.

B: First Residence Permit

As a rule, this residence permit will be issued for up to one year for the first time. Usually, the B permit will be renewed in the next year. Generally, as long as there are no conflicting reasons, such as relying on Swiss social welfare, there is no problem. A quota limits the number of these licenses. It restricts where the holder can live (in the state that issued the license) and with which employer. Taxes are collected at the source.

C: Long-term residence permit

After ten years of uninterrupted stay in Switzerland, nationals from third countries can obtain a C permit. Nationals from the United States and Canada must stay for five years without interruption. A and C permit holders can change employers and reside in any province. Taxes are no longer collected at the source.

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