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Home > Global Connection > Switzerland Work Visa
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Work Visa

The Swiss Government's very restrictive immigration policy has made it extremely difficult to obtain Residence Permits with a view to taking up employment. As a rule only persons who have been offered jobs which cannot be filled by Swiss nationals have a chance of obtaining Residence Permits. Inevitably, these vacancies are usually only in an occupation of a highly specialized nature. The Swiss Embassy is unable to assist in finding employment in Switzerland. No lists of Swiss or foreign companies, agencies or organizations are available. Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, therefore free movement of labor and individuals does not apply as in the EU.

Switzerland does not use the term "work permit" in its traditional sense. The Residence Permit is a combination of both a residence and a work permit, entitling the holder to live in a particular Canton and work for a specified employer. The Swiss authorities issue the work permits depending - among other factors - on the number of permits already issued in the past for a particular Swiss employer who requests for employment of foreigners. Thus, if the concerned employer already has a higher number of foreigners on its company’s payroll than the Swiss residents, it can become more difficult to obtain a permit even if all other conditions are fulfilled.
The following is an overview of the various types of residence and work permits issued to foreigners in Switzerland.

Types of Permit
Issued after arrival in Switzerland, but only to persons holding an "Assurance of a Residence Permit" or a Visa for the purpose of employment.
Work Permits for Non-EU/EFTA citizens
Duration & Characteristics
Usually issued for a year
Renewable on an annual basis for an indefinite period
Permits work in Switzerland while being an overseas resident near the Swiss border.
The G-Permit holder should be a border commuter residing outside Switzerland somewhere in the border area but coming back to his residence daily after work The employer should prove the requirement for recruiting a foreigner.
The decision completely depends on the Cantonal authorities
There are no quota restrictions
Issued for 4 months, 6 months or a longer duration not exceeding 18 months
It permits working on short term project-related assignments in Switzerland
Referred to as short-term work permit or Residence Permit different conditions apply as below:
The tenure for which it is issued
Family is not permitted to reside in Switzerland
The employer should prove the urgency for recruiting a foreigner
for more than 6 months permit, the Federal authorities approval is also required
Quota restrictions are applicable
Usually issued for 12 months
Renewable on an annual basis
The standard Swiss work/ residence permit gives the holder a complete residence status
The annual work/ residence permit is either issued for an indefinite period or a maximum duration of 4 years
The family is permitted to reside in Switzerland
The employer should prove the need for recruiting a foreigner
The quota restrictions are applicable.
Permanent residence permit is normally issued after 5 or 10 years of stay in Switzerland (subject to the bilateral conventions between foreigner's country of citizenship and Switzerland)
Issued for an indefinite period
The C-Permit gives the holder a permanent residence status and also the same rights as those of Swiss citizens (except political rights)
Controlled every 3 years
Becomes invalid if the holder leaves Switzerland for more than 6 months (consecutively)

Work Permits for EU/ EFTA citizens
Type Duration & Characteristics Conditions
G-EU/ EFTA The Border Commuter work permit (EU/ EFTA) is issued for the employment contract period provided it should not exceed a year In case an employment contract concludes for a year or greater than a year, the validity of the permit will be for 5 years. The G-Permit holder should stay outside Switzerland in the border area but should come back to his residence on a weekly basis.
L-EU/ EFTA Short-term residence/ work permit (EU/ EFTA) is issued for 4, 6 or a maximum duration of 1 year
It permits working on short-term project related assignments in Switzerland
Issued for employment contracts of less than 12 months duration satisfying the provisional requirements for the transitional period
The Holder benefits from professional and geographical mobility
B-EU/EFTA Annual work/ residence permit (EU/ EFTA) is valid for 5 years but can be extended
It is the standard Swiss work/ residence permit that gives the holder a full residence status
Salaried employees who have an employment contract of a year or a longer duration and those who are self-employed will first be issued a residence permit of 6 months' validity for the introductory phase
Later, they will be entitled for a residence permit for a period of 5 years
This permit of 5 years’ validity will also be beneficial for those not gainfully employed, provided they have enough financial resources and accident and health insurance policies covering all the risks
For the period until 2006, the employer should prove the requirement for recruiting a foreigner
Special EU/EFTA quota restrictions are applicable.
C-EU/EFTA Permanent residence permit (EU/ EFTA) is normally issued after residing in Switzerland for 5/ 10 years (subject to bilateral conventions between the foreigner's country of citizenship and Switzerland)
Issued for an indefinite period
It gives the holder a permanent residence status conferring the same rights as those of Swiss citizens (except political ones).
Becomes invalid if the holder leaves Switzerland for more than 6 months (consecutively).
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