How to Move to Switzerland – Frequently Asked Questions on Swiss Migration Law

Before reading this FAQ, we recommend reading the article on Swiss immigration law.

How long does it take for a residence and work permit to be issued?

For Third Country Nationals, once all the information and documents are collected, the process may take up to two months. Depending on the work load of the authorities it may even take longer. It is therefore recommended to file an application at least two months before the planned date of entry to Switzerland.

I am a Third Country National who will work / works in Switzerland. Can I (easily) get a permit for spouse and children?

If a Third Country National gets a residence and work permit, his/her spouse and children generally are issued a permit as well under the conditions that they live together, have an apartment (or an accurate place to live) and are not dependent on social benefits. Under certain circumstances, a permit may also be requested for an unmarried partner if there has been a lasting and stable relationship.

The requirements for a subsequent immigration of the family members are harder to fulfil. If it is applied for such sub- sequent immigration after five years – since the approval of the residence and work permit or the formation of the family relation – the Third Country National has to prove the existence of important family reasons.

What documents need to accompany a request for a residence and work permit?

Please note that the documents may vary depending on the permit that will be applied for. For Third Country Nationals, if there is no exceptional case, the following documents must be filed: cantonal application form, photocopy of passport, particular documents required by Cantons, confirmation of a vacancy advertised by the Regional Employment Offices (RAV) and in the European Employment Services cooperation network (EURES), photocopies of job advertisements published in professional magazines, trade papers, and Swiss national newspapers and magazines, evidence of customary efforts made to obtain employment, curriculum vitae (chronological style), proof of qualification (diplomas, certificates), photocopies of diplomas and certificates, contract of employment (must be signed at least by the employer) or employee transfer confirmation by the employer stating salary, expatriation allowance and expense allowance as well as the detailed reasoning for the application.

If I intend to work in Switzerland, do I get two different permits, a residence and a work permit?

No, the residence and work permit is issued as one permit. If a person is allowed to work in Switzerland, a residence permit (i.e. an L- or a B-permit) is issued by the authorities with the comment that work is allowed (“mit Erwerbstätigkeit”).

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