Questions from our readers

Posted on 09 June 2007 by LegalBeagle

Following are some questions from our readers concerning procedures and experiences for obtaining residence or permission to work in Switzerland. Please address all questions to

??? I am granted a student visa to attend a Masters program in Switzerland. With this kind of permit, I have to leave Switzerland after the end of the program. What if I find a job? Does this type or permission mean that I can’t even search for a job, because I will be forced to leave Switzerland anyway?

LB: In fact it does – or rather: it did– but you won’t be forced to leave because by June 1st 2007, as an EU citizen, you have a right to a work permit and to stay and work in Switzerland. So complete your academic course and while you are studying look for a Swiss job. All the employers know of the changes and the impact these changes will have and will be willing to employ you if they are interested in your credentials.

jobs in Switzerland

??? My employer has just offered to relocate me to Zurich. At this time I am working for the same company but at the US headquarters. I am Turkish and hold neither US citizen nor EU citizenship. I have a BA in economics (Turkish University) and 3 years of fulltime work experience in finance in the USA. What are my chances to get a work permit in Switzerland ?

LB: To get a permit to work in Switzerland, it helps enormously if:

> you are educated
> a company already wants to employee you

You are likely to get a permit to work in Switzerland. The company wishing to employ you will have to prove that they have looked in Switzerland for a person with the same qualifications as you. They should show that they put advertisements in the local newspaper or on Budget about 4 months for the company to obtain the work permit from the time they start the paperwork.

??? I am setting up a company (GmBh) in Switzerland and I am planning to use an agency to do this for me. Part of the deal is that they are going to apply for my Swiss residence permit on my behalf as the owner of the Swiss business. My friend, acting as Director, will have to sign the application for my Swiss working permit.

The agency quoted me 4,700 Euros for the service, which is about 8000 Swiss francs. Is that too high? Are there any other companies you know who provides the service of obtaining a permit to work in Switzerland?

LB: Agencies charge for basically putting your name on the templates and sending off the forms.

You can start a company in Switzerland yourself for under CHF 1800. Many accountants will do this for you. The notary fees are under CHF 1000 in Fribourg. Handelsregister and notary fees are unavoidable. An accountant or fiduciary or a notary’s office draws up the legal documents to incorporate a Swiss company and a notary ultimately registers them. An Swiss S.a.r.l. costs about CHF 2000 to set up and an SA a bit more. The S.a.r.l. only requires a CHF 20,000 funds guarantee while the SA –which is essentially a private bearer-shares company—requires a minimum CHF 100,000 funds guarantee. The set-up fees are the monies that actually leave your pocket.
An SA, on average, costs about CHF 4000 to set up. An SA has to be audited, so the yearly accounting fees (assuming you will be paying for outside accountancy) are higher.

The bottom line is, these fees being what they are, you can employ yourself in a Euro 50,000 / year job, thereby obtain a permit to work in Switzerland, and these set up and maintenance fees will not matter on the scale of things.

You can look on for checklists and guidance for gmbh in English or on the Swiss government website.

??? I have been in Switzerland for 2 months. I don’t need a visa to be here – I am South African– but have read on the Swiss Immigration website, that I am only able to stay here for 3 months, and then I have to leave.

Does anyone have any experience with how the “leaving switzerland for 1 month” thing works? Is it necessary? I don’t want to get in trouble as its really important that I am here for the next period of 3 months…

LB: That is correct: three months, then one month break, then three months, to a maximum of six months per year. And if you don’t leave, they will deport you.

Its the law, and while it is not always applied, they do selectively apply it. To stay longer than a twice three-month tourist stay, one needs a residence permit to actually live in Switzerland, a opposed to visiting or touring. So you overstay at your own risk, which can result in the authorities stamping your passport with your overstay and rendering your travel to third countries more difficult.

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