Swiss Work Permits

Switzerland has a dual system for allowing foreigners to work while in the country. The first concerns citizens from the European Union and/or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), who are generally allowed to come to Switzerland for three months while they look for work. The period can be extended to six months during an active job hunt.

The second is for citizens of all other countries (so-called Third States). Citizens from these countries must have a guaranteed work contract from an employer as well as the appropriate work visa before entering the country. Having a job offer alone is not enough to guarantee a permit.

Family members of a permit holder are allowed to stay and reside in Switzerland as well, regardless of nationality. Family members include a spouse, descendants under age 21 or dependants over whom custody or care is granted, regardless of age.
Cantonal authorities are responsible for issuing permits.

Permits for EU/EFTA

List of EU-25 and EFTA States

Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, Lichtenstein, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia

EU/EFTA citizens can benefit from agreements on the free movement of persons that were put into force in 2002 and updated several times since. The agreements, in general, allow those citizens the right to enter, reside and to look for work or to establish themselves as self employed. Special interim provisions governing access to the labour market by nationals from Bulgaria and Romania apply until 2016.

However, a public vote on February 9, 2014 in favour of the reintroduction of quotas for immigrants to Switzerland means that the country has until 2017 to renegotiate its bilateral accord with the EU on the free movement of people, or it will have to be revoked.


Permits for Non-EU/EFTA

Workers from so-called third states – nationals from neither EU member states nor Switzerland – must hold a work permit. Regulations on how to get one are considerably tighter than for most Europeans and are often directly tied to employment. Getting a job offer is just one step of many toward getting a permit.

Please contact us and we can advise you on how to get a permit.

The most Common types of permits in Switzerland

L: Short-term

The length of the employment contract determines how long this permit is valid but it typically ranges from three to 12 months and is given to people who will work in the country for less than one year. EU/EFTA nationals looking for a job also receive this permit after being in the country for three months. You are allowed to change where you live (cantons) and jobs.

If you plan to work in Switzerland for less than three months per calendar year, you may not need a permit at all. Under certain conditions, EU/EFTA citizens with a job in Switzerland, those who are providing services in the country, and workers of other nationalities posted briefly to Switzerland by EU/EFTA companies can take advantage of an online registration procedure. (Meldeverfahren)  It only applies to employment in Switzerland lasting up to three months per calendar year and must be done before a person actually starts to work for the Swiss employer.

B: Initial residence permit

B residence permit is granted to persons who have an unlimited employment relationship or one lasting for at least 12 months. It has a period of validity of five years and will be automatically extended for five years as long as the employment relationship continues. That said, the extension may be limited to one year if the person is unemployed for longer than 12 consecutive months. Persons who settle in the country without gainful employment (provided they have enough financial backing) also receive a B permit.

C: Permanent residence permit

Nationals from the 15 old EU countries and EFTA can get a C permit, valid for an indefinite length, after a regular and uninterrupted stay of five years in Switzerland. The C permit allows holders to freely change where they live (cantons) and employers.

Get in touch for more information!

Stamford Payroll
Friedensgasse 10
4143 Dornach (Basel)
+41 61 560 10 90