Archive | Permits

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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Permits to Work in Switzerland

Posted on 20 July 2007 by LegalBeagle

It was only a matter of time before the permit process and the documents which provide authorization to work in Switzerland became the object of criminal attention.

In order for foreigners to work in Switzerland, a permit is necessary and there exist a dozen denominations of the Swiss work permit, which is described elsewhere on this site. While obtaining a work permit has become simplified and practically automatic for EU nationals, it has become somewhat tighter for the Rest of the World. The changing structure and attribution of work permits may be followed on the government website,

Recently, a young man was arrested for reported stealing 700 blank permits from the Office Cantonal de la Population in Geneva, which he then delivered to criminals from Kosovar gangs, and which helped him underwrite his drug habit. More the 700 work permits have disappeared into the Swiss landscape, permitting entry to perhaps a wide variety of cabaret artists, comfort women, and drug dealers.

The document thief, a 21-year old cocaine addict, was just released from Champs Dollon prison and is under home confinement awaiting judgment. The young man claims he began stealing the documents in order to pay off his drug debts to his Kosovar suppliers. A veritable traffic then sprung up in stolen blank permits. He has all the while refused to give the names of the people to whom he supplied the documents, as he is afraid they will retaliate by helping him into the trunk of his car.

Thanks to investigations of telephone records, police nonetheless tracked down one of his business associates and arrested a certain A., an Albanian construction worker living in Thoune. Police were able to prove that A. met with the Permit Thief, who claims to have passed A. 300 blank permits for agreed upon CHF 60,000 which A. then never paid.

A third man was arrested for having supplied the software used to print the data on permits. With the stolen blank permits and the software, one can proceed to issue permits without the annoying inconvenience of requesting government authorization.

For the time being, none of the permits have been recovered and the key Mafiosi to whom they were supplied remain at large. The permit thief continues to receive threatening SMSs, such as “We know where you lieve, bastard sonofabith, and we’ll kill you.”

As a rule, if one is highly qualified in any of numerous high-tech or value-added fields, or if one is well-educated, it is possible to find work in Switzerland through the simple straightforward process of obtaining a job offer from a Swiss.-based company, which will then apply to the authorities for a work permit.

Switzerland currently has a dire shortage of gualified professionals and many companies, despite having recourse to the expensive services of recruiters and numerous websites for professional recruitment, do not manage to rapidly find the qualified workers they are seeking. The fields of banking, insurance, I.T., biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and luxury watchmaking are particularly hot sectors of the Swiss economy.

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Current Legal Framework

Posted on 15 June 2007 by LegalBeagle

Citizens of the EU and EFTA continue to have to obtain a valid work permit to work in Switzerland, but have now have the same opportunities on the labor market to find employment in Switzerland as do Swiss nationals.

Separate regulations apply to third country nationals who seek work in Switzerland.

Labor Force Flexibility and mobility of workers within Europe
The European job mobility portal – EURES- is the official conduit of information and services for those seeking employment in Switzerland. It explains the rules and regulations now in force for EU nationals who wish to move to Switzerland find a job.

For those wishing to exercise the benefits offered by the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons and work in Switzerland, “EuresInfo Switzerland” provides detailed information about how to go about finding a job in Switzerland.

employment in Switzerland

EFTA / EU nationals wishing to be self-employed in Switzerland
EU/EFTA nationals can now be self-employed in Switzerland. Information on the procedures to follow can be found in the brochure “European Nationals in Switzerland, which explains how to obtain residence in Switzerland and work in a profession in a self-employed capacity.”

Employment and Work Permit Policy for third-country nationals
For citizens from countries other than EU /EFTA, the following restrictions apply:

1) Priority on the Swiss labor market is given to Swiss nationals and EU /EFTA nationals. Therefore, job applicants from third-countries are only be considered when there are no qualified applicants for the job from the EU/EFTA member states.

2) Work permits for third country nationals are only issued in compliance with the established quotas.

3) Wage and working conditions for the advertised job (the same as for Swiss nationals) must be complied with.
There are possible conditions for various professions and groups of individuals: specialists, executives of multinational companies (executive transfer), employees of international organizations and artists. The government’s Federal Office for Migration can answer any questions regarding living and working in Switzerland.

Third-country nationals are not permitted to be self-employed in Switzerland.
As a general rule, self-employment is only possible for third-country nationals AFTER they have obtained their residence permit (C permit).

Internships in Switzerland / third countries
Switzerland has agreements on the exchange of interns with numerous countries to facilitate the obtaining of limited residence and work permits. Those admitted as interns are expected to between 18 and 30 and have finished the relevant vocational training. Interns may only be employed for up to 18 months as such. Information concerning internships and the regulations that govern entry under such a formula are to be found on the Federal Office of Migration (FOM) website.

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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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Being Self-Employed in Switzerland

Posted on 09 March 2007 by Fixer

The conditions for being self-employed are that you must either have a permanent residence permit known a s a ‘C’ permit (some cantonal governments have granted the right to be self-employed to certain ‘B’ permit holders.) You must have an annual income of at least CHF 50 000, and an economic activity that is not protected in Switzerland. or live in the country for a minimum of 180 days a year.

It is not easy to start up a business in Switzerland; you must be organised and persistent. The authorities review your proposition carefully and are usually concerned about what your business will contribute to the local community so the more convincing you are the easier it becomes.

There are two types of companies that exist; one is the small to medium sized companies which cover 99% of the economy and employ 1.45 million people. The other is big multi-nationals which often do not to sell much inside the country but have substantial revenues trading world-wide.

work from your swiss villaThere are two kinds of businesses set up in Switzerland which are public and private companies and in these two categories there are five types:

* Private limited liability companies
* Partnerships
* Joint stock companies
* General Partnerships
* Sole Proprietorships

Since 2002, EU passport holders have had the right to sSelf-employment in Switzerland. Before that time, the privilege was reserved for C permits-holders and the Swiss and all others had to be salaried – though they could always start their own company if they wanted and employ themselves.

Now any EU passport holder can exercise an independent activity in Switzerland as long as:
The sector of activity is not a special protected sector (for example, it is not allowed to be a notary public), revenue exceeds SF 50,000, and residence in Switzerland is at least 180 days. Write us ( info@ ) if you would like us to post further information about this.

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Residence in Switzerland – The Celebrity Fast Lane

Posted on 11 February 2007 by LegalBeagle

If you are very wealthy or a celebrity, there is a special fast-lane available for you. Numerous celebrities have chosen to make Switzerland their residence for tax reasons, as well as for the quality of life, the safety and stability of the country, the low criminality, and its ideal environment for raising children, as well as the culture of respect for people’s private life.

If you are rich or a celebrity, it doesn’t really matter what your country of origin is, you can obtain a Swiss residence permit when you invest in a Swiss company. This route is often taken by sports professionals (like formula 1 pilot Schumacher), rich businessmen whose businesses are elsewhere or who have sold their companies, actors, singers or diverse retirees.

In order to qualify for this procedure, you need to invest at least CHF 500′000 in a company in the canton in which you intend to reside. It is not sufficient to simply deposit 500k in a local Swiss bank account or invest such an amount stock of a publically traded Swiss company. It is necessary that the your investment helps the local economy and contributes to creating jobs.

Also, you usually need to demonstrate some kind of links with Switzerland, whether those links be friends, family, or sometimes regular travel. If you are an international celebrity, these ‘links’ become less important to the Authorities issuing the residence permit.

However, in principle, under this process it is necessary to reside in Switzerland for the majority of the year. Exceptions are possible as long as they are in good faith. This said, it is normally not possible to use this procedure and then live most of the year elsewhere only coming to Switzerland now and then for a few weeks of vacation.

Under this program, you receive a B permit renewable each year. The B permit gives you the rigth to live in Switzerland with your family – that is : wife and children under 18. You also have the right to buy real estate for your personal use and also obtain the right to be taxed under the much more advantageous lump-sum formula.

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Looking for work in Switzerland

Posted on 09 February 2007 by Brucellus

You do not need a residence permit for a maximum three-month stay in Switzerland. If your job search lasts longer than three months (or if you are exporting your unemployment benefits), you have to apply to your commune of stay for a residence permit, which is valid for another three months period, for the purpose of looking for work. These permits are not subject to quotas. In ccordance with the bilateral agreements, they do not entitle you to receive social aid benefits from your host country.

If you’re a non-Western European, you are required to have a current passport with a visa. No foreigner can stay longer than a total of six months in residence per year.

Switzerland does not use the term “work permit” as used elsewhere in Europe. The Swiss residence permit (Aufenthaltsbewilligung, autorisation de séjour), which is difficult to obtain, is a combination residence-work permit. A Swiss residence permit only allows one to live in a particular residence in a particular Canton and to work for only one specified employer. Be aware that change of job, residence, or Canton requires re-application and re-approval. Approval is not guaranteed.

Foreigners are issued a Residence Permit (Auslanderausweis, livret pour étrangers), which must be carried at all times.

If you intend to stay more than three months in Switzerland you need permission from the commune in which you will stay. The delivered residence permit is valid throughout the Swiss territory but you have to inform the communal authorities about an eventual change of your place of residence. The authorisation will be given if: you have sufficient financial means to provide for your own and your family’s needs; you have health and accident insurance coverage during your stay.

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Posted on 06 February 2007 by Gaffer

Well, if nothing is working for you, you can always try the last resort: Declare yourself a refugee.

In a way, you’ve sort of missed the boat — sorry, a tasteless analogy– with refugee status. Well, perhaps what used to be a luxury liner is now only a small yacht. Applying for refugee status was once a means to remain in Switzerland for years –decades even– while your pro bono lawyers laboriously dragged the case through the appeals process of the Swiss judiciary. And all the while living a comfortable life on public assistance. Unfortunately those says are coming to a close and the Swiss have finally decided they don’t want to pay for this anymore; laws have recently passed substantially tightening how refugees applicants are treated. The ultimate goal –though Switzerland may still be a few light years away from it– is to make Switzerland as attractive an asylum destination as Bangladesh. Currently, however, it’s perhaps on the same level as Germany, and the Authors believe many more fat years lie ahead.

So, first, it helps if you’ve been persecuted. When you arrive, look downtrodden and visibly persecuted. Also, the Swiss Authorities have run out of patience with the refugee applicant who has mysteriously swallowed his identity papers or speaks with an obviously phony Liberian accent. If you have marks you can show (burns, scars, perhaps a lude tattoo), and a colorful tale of hardship or –even better– cruel and arbitrary imprisonment, you are on your way to being treated seriously as an applicant for refugee status. Remember that the Swiss authorities have heard a lot of stories in their time and their credulity has been sorely tested over the years.

The definition itself of the word refugee is fairly restrictive and intends to distinguish between people who are truly fleeing persecution and those who are simply attracted to the high Swiss standard of living — what the milieux of politics and international aid now refer to as ‘economic migrants.’ To be blunt, the plenitude of material well-being to be found in Switzerland, while understandably desirable, unfortunately does not constitute a basis for your request for asylum– even if you are coming from a country where the most prevalent real-estate development is the

proliferation of the cardboard box. You must prove that, in your country of origin or your last country of residence, you have experienced a serious threat or well-founded fear of being persecuted by reason of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

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