Non – EU Nationals Working in Switzerland

Posted on 25 July 2007 by LegalBeagle

As the implementation of the laws governing foreigners working in Switzerland is constantly evolving, here is a current run-down on obtaining permits for work in Switzerland if you are not an EC / EU national.

On the Swiss labor market, priority is given to Swiss nationals or to resident foreigners who hold residence permits or permits to work in Switzerland.

Permits are granted only if the employer is offering the foreign national the same salary and employment conditions that are in effect for locally recruited staff in the relevant industry and if the foreign national has adequate health insurance.

The employer wishing to obtain a permit for employing a non EU national is required to prove that it has made every possible effort to find qualified candidates on the Swiss and European labor markets. The Cantonal Employment Office has a special application form which companies are required to use to announce vacancies. No permit (for a non EU national) may be applied for until at least 3 weeks has elapsed subsequent to filing such a vacancy notice. During this period the Employment office will seek to present qualified candidates to the company. Because of the penury of highly qualified professionals in information systems, telecommunications, biotechnology, banking and financial technologies, pharmaceutical research, and luxury watchmaking, often for these specific fields international recruitment is the only viable solution for companies.

Foreign nationals holding the annual (B) work permit are required to obtain permission to change their job, profession or canton or to change from employment to self-employment.

When filing a request for a permit for a prospective employee, employers wishing to hire a non EU citizen must provide the following to the government immigration authorities:

1) A description of the job position

2) Proof that they have advertised the position locally, sought staff on the local market and failed to find adequately qualified personnel

3) A filled-out application form for a permit for a non-EU national, specifying the salary of the job (which must be at a ‘specialist’ level – Minimum $65,000/year). A company wishing to relocate executive staff to its Swiss offices is exempt from scrutiny of the job position.

4) Copies of the CV of the individual the company wishes to hire

5) Copies of the diplomas and relevant work certificates of the individual the company wishes to hire


6) Copies of the passport of the individual the company wishes to hire

7) A motivation letter from the company explaining why they want a permit for this individual

Obviously, large multinationals who have substantial weight on the national labor market– such as the banks, agro-industrials, pharmaceutical companies and research institutes, hospitals, luxury watch companies – have, as a rule, little trouble obtaining the permits they request. Therefore, when offered a job, which is obviously contingent on authorization of the company’s permit request, you can start packing your bags if the company is UBS, Nestle, Credit Suisse, Novartis or MerckSerono, but you may want to wait prudently if the company seeking to hire you is XYZ Export company with only 8 employees.

On the basis of an authorization to work in Switzerland the foreign national then applies for the specific entry visa at the Swiss consulate or embassy of his residence and picks up his work permit upon entering Switzerland. The entering foreigner must have his visa stamped by the immigration officers at the border.

Failure to do this can result in being required to exit and reenter Switzerland !

A Summary of the myriad permits for work in Switzerland is found below:

B PERMIT (Ausländerausweis) — this is a long term permit subject to quotas (Aufenthaltbewilligung mit Erwerbstätigkeit)
Issued for ‘Economic interests’ based on Employee qualifications
Priority for Swiss and European Union workers
Compliance with local employment conditions
Availability of quota
Renewable until granting of settlement C permit after 10 years (USA + Canada 5 years)

B PERMIT — short term and also subject to quota (Kurzaufenthaltbewilligung)
Issued for ‘Important projects’ or International joint programs
For sports figures
Issued for up to 3 years, potentially even up to 6 years in certain cases

B PERMIT for Residency (Aufenthaltbewilligung im Rahmen des Familiennachzugs)
A long term permit not subject to quota
Based on family grouping, or change of employer, profession or canton
Renewable and Can be converted into a C Permit

L PERMIT — Short term permit not subject to Quota
(für die Ausübung einer kurzfristigen Erwerbstätigkeit sowie für andere vorübergehende Aufenthalte)
For training, project work, setting up Information systems or other technical infrastructures, fiduciary review, extra labor in a busy period, start-ups, etc. Also Management and development of a company when the presence of a manager is not required all year. Ususally for 4 consecutive months — known as a 120 – day permit.
Also for young people employed as au pairs, aged 18 to 30 years : Canadian, USA, Australian and New Zealand nationals (30 hrs/wk), young workers qualified as health professionals and trained abroad who wish to develop their professional skills
Renewable up to a maximum of 24 months
For Cabaret dancers and other artists (Form A7) renewable up to maximum 8 months in a calendar year


G PERMIT for Border workers for commuting to work in Switzerland (für Grenzgängerinnen und Grenzgänger)
For third countries workers under specific circumstances; residence is not in Switzerland
Valid for 1 year, Renewable

N PERMIT for asylum seekers (für Asylsuchende. Dieser Ausweis wird von den kantonalen Behörden gestützt auf den Entscheid des Bundesamtes für Migration ausgestellt)
Foreign nationals, who during the time their asylum application are being processed are permitted to seek temporary employment until a ruling is given on their application

F PERMIT for temporary admission (für vorläufig aufgenommene Ausländerinnen und Ausländer (Art. 14a ANAG, Art. 5 VVWA). Dieser Ausweis wird von den kantonalen Behörden gestützt auf eine Verfügung des Bundesamtes für Migration ausgestellt.)
This work permit is for foreign nationals who do not qualify for asylum; it’s renewable.

Ci PERMIT (Dieser Ausweis wird von den kantonalen Behörden für erwerbstätige Ehepartner und Kinder von Angehörigen ausländischer Vertretungen oder intergouvernementaler Organisationen (IO) ausgestellt.)
This is the work permit for the spouse of an employee of an international organisation. The spouse must be living in the family unit. Also valid for children under 21 years.

C PERMIT – permanent residency — this is what the other permits usually turn into if you reside in Switzerland long enough.


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