Work Permit in Switzerland

Work Permit in Switzerland
Anna Ledenyova
Switzerland has featured a dual system for determining employment permits in the country since 1998. In the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, which is the governing Act behind the work permits, citizens from both EU and EFTA nations are prioritised before those from other nations, and on top of this, non-EU and EFTA nations are subject to limited places in Switzerland. This means there is a possibility of the Swiss government rejecting work permits if all non-EU places are filled.

Normally a Swiss work permit is connected to residency permits, so in the case of an EU or EFTA citizen, this means that they are able to enter Switzerland and reside for 3 months and search for ongoing employment. In the event of an active job search, the residency period can be extended for a further 3 months.

Work permits for EU citizens in Switzerland

Swiss work permits are controlled and allocated by the cantons and are confirmed with the Federal Migration Office. Each permit also features a correspondent letter for permits for EU and EFTA citizens. Every permit is also split into a category.

Each permit has a corresponding letter to categorise it, the Swiss short-term work permit is categorised as a letter L. Normally an L permit is presented to non-Swiss citizens to allow them to remain in the country from 3 to 12 months. It's important to know that for those who are intending to work in Switzerland for less than 3 months aren't required to get a work permit.

The B permit is reserved for residency, or initial residency when an individual is provided with a work contract that is indefinite and will last for a minimum of one year. The B permit caps out at 5 years, although there aren't limits set, so it can be renewed for an additional 5 years in the event the employment will continue. Once employment has concluded, the B permit is valid for an additional 12 months and can be extended for an additional 1 year, though after that the permit is void.

A permanent residency permit is characterised by the letter C and is presented to nationals from any of the 15 EU and EFTA nations. This permit is limitless and recurring indefinitely in the event the national has stayed in Switzerland for 5 years without any interruption.

Finally, the G permit is for nationals who work in Switzerland and live in another EU country. The G permit is designed for commuters and it requires the commuter to return home for at least one day a week. The G permit has slowly begun to fade away and lose popularity among the EU.

In addition to their employment, an EU or EFTA national have the following choices provided by their work permit:

  • Deciding a canton live and work in
  • Switching between jobs and employers
  • Relocating their family to Switzerland
  • Family members are able to work in Switzerland
  • Work permit for non-EU citizens in Switzerland
For those outside the EU and EFTA, their intended Swiss employer must prove to the authorities that there was no possible way to employ a Swiss or EU national for the future position in order for the non-Swiss national to receive a work permit.

On top of this, a non-EU or EFTA national is required to have their residence permit as well as their employment contract complete and finalised before arriving in Switzerland to begin work.

Non-EU or EFTA national work permits are categorised in the following:

  • Short-Term, or L Permit: this permit is awarded to non-nationals and is limited to one year, though it can be increased by an extra year if the employment contract continues.
  • Initial residence or B permit: is designed to allow a non-national to live and work in Switzerland for under one year, but can be renewed on an annual basis. The permit is governed by quotas and allows the holder to reside in one of the Swiss cantons in which the permit was approved. The permit is also linked to the Swiss company.
  • Permanent residency or C permit: given to non-citizens who have lived in Switzerland for over 10 years, uninterrupted. This permit is able to be presented to US and Canadian citizens who have lived in Switzerland for 5 years.