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Work Permits

Switzerland - Work Permits

Residence permits, as previously described, are issued for foreign nationals working or studying in Switzerland, or for dependants of Swiss nationals and foreign nationals who have been granted a permit. Therefore, please see the previous section on Visas and Residence Permits for the application process to work in Switzerland.

The residence permit granted to workers is normally subject to the holder being engaged in income-generating activity. If you lose your job while in Switzerland under a worker's residence permit, you may continue to seek work for six months with the authorisation of your local migration official (e.g. Gemeinde or Kreisbüro; Contrôle des habitants).

Graduates of Swiss universities are granted a period of six months from graduation in which to search for work in Switzerland. Dependants of an EU/EFTA national in Switzerland may also take up work while in Switzerland, even if not personally a national of an EU/EFTA state, but must notify the local migration office.

If you are in Switzerland on a tourist visa and obtain an offer of employment during that visit, you would need to leave the Schengen area again in order to then apply for a Work Visa in the normal way. You will not be considered for a Work Visa if applying from within Switzerland or indeed anywhere in the Schengen area on a tourist visa.

You may seek for work in Switzerland while in your home country, but if from outside the EU/EFTA note that your employer is likely to have difficulty in obtaining a work permit for you under the quota system. Those successful under the foreign employment quota system are professionals with hard-to-find specialist skills, where a Swiss or EU/EFTA national could not have been hired for the vacancy and where the annual quota has not yet been met. If successful, obtaining the permit can take up to 4 months (although in some cases would be much quicker) and you cannot enter Switzerland to work until it has been obtained. Nor may you re-enter as a tourist unless granted special permission to do so. Dependants of non-EU/EFTA nationals are granted the dependant's L permit rather than a worker's L permit on first entering Switzerland. However, if able to secure employment under the criteria for employment on non-EU/EFTA nationals, the process to change from one to the other can be undertaken via your local migration official in Switzerland.

Expats may obtain the residence permit for non-working persons if not intending to work within Switzerland, but in this situation you would be expected to prove you could support yourself financially. If your situation subsequently changes and you wish to seek work, you would need to contact your local migration official.

Useful Resources

Federal Office of Migration FAQ Regarding the Free Movement of Persons Switzerland -- EU/EFTA Directive

Federal Office of Migration FAQ Regarding the Employment of Non Member EU-EFTA Workers in Switzerland

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Expat Health Insurance Partners


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