Residency and Work Permits in Switzerland

Do you want to know how to get residency in Switzerland? Do you need a work permit for Switzerland? Read our guide to residency & work permits in Switzerland.

Residency in Switzerland

Swiss residence permits are valid for up to five years; however, these are only issued to people in full time paid employment in Switzerland. After a period of five years under a Swiss residence permit, a person wishing to remain in Switzerland can apply for a settlement permit which gives them the right to remain in Switzerland without work although this permit is checked by the authorities in Switzerland every five years. Short term residence permits are also available for Switzerland and are valid for between three months to one year.

Work permits in Switzerland

Because Switzerland has one of the highest working standards in Europe, demand for work permits is high and so are the barriers. All foreign nationals wishing to work in Switzerland are required to have a valid work permit. Work permits are even required in Switzerland for people in unpaid and voluntary work. Work permits for work in Switzerland are only permitted for applicants who are not in Switzerland at the time of work permit application. That means you cannot go to Switzerland on a visiting visa then apply for a work permit. At present there are strict quotas for issuing work permits for foreigners wishing to work in Switzerland; however these rules look set to be relaxed in forthcoming years.

Switzerland work   for EU Nationals

Obtaining a work permit for Switzerland is comparatively easier for EU nationals because of agreements signed between Switzerland and the EU. In 2002 the regulations surrounding work permits in Switzerland for EU nationals were relaxed; permitting workers to move between cantons in Switzerland, bring families to Switzerland, and to transfer jobs in Switzerland under the same work permit. By 2014 the quotas for work permits in Switzerland issued to EU nationals will be dropped. In the meantime it is still quite difficult for non EU nationals to obtain work permits in Switzerland. The only way a work permit for Switzerland will be issued to non EU nationals is if it can be demonstrated that they possess skills that a Swiss employer cannot find in Switzerland.