- Country Name: Swiss Confederation
- Capital: Bern
- Population: 8,211,700 (2014 estimate)
- Language: German, French, Italian, Romansh
- Time Zone: CET (UTC+1)
- Dialing Code: +41
- Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
This FAQ has been created as an introductory guide to immigration procedures for Switzerland. Since rules and requirements in every country are constantly changing and each case must be assessed on its own merits, for in-depth and up-to-date advice, please contact us.
Please note, we can only advise on matters relating to immigration and are unable support you with employment in a new region. We do however have a network of trusted partners that can support your move, so please visit Our Partners page for further information.
There are a variety of international companies based in Switzerland specialising in IT, computing, engineering, banking, , food processing, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
There are also opportunities for expats in teaching, tourism, watch making, manufacturing of orthopaedic appliances and precious jewellery, the service industry and customer service.
Note that while EU nationals can work in Switzerland for up to 8 days without a work permit, assignments for longer than 8 days require a work permit, regardless of nationality.
There are various work permit options for Switzerland. However, the main options for working in Switzerland are:
Long Term Permit (B) for Local Hire
Long Term Permit (B) (Long Term Assignment) (ICT)
Short Term Permit (L) Assignment
Short Term Permit (L) Local Hire
Short Term Permit Up To 4 Months Assignment
Short Term Permit Up To 4 Months Local Hire
120 Day Work Permit
8 Day Work Permit Exemption (Assignment)
Long term assignment work permits are issued for up to 48 months, or, in exceptional cases, up to 60 months. However, note that B permits are subject to a quota, and if the quota has already been exhausted, applicants may be issued with a short term (L) permit.
Short term L permits are generally issued for up to 1 year.
Assignees who will be working in Switzerland for up to 120 days or 4 months can apply for short term work permits which are exempt from quotas.
EU/EFTA and Non-EU/EFTA nationals who are employed outside Switzerland and who will be working in Switzerland for up to eight days over the course of one calendar year do not need to obtain work permits, but might need to obtain entry visas. The eight day work permit exemption does not apply to the following industries: professions subject to declarations, construction, hospitality, cleaning, security services, and itinerant traders such as travelling salespeople, market-traders, stall-keepers, and circus and fairground workers.
Processes and requirements will vary according to the type of work permit being applied for, the canton processing the application and the nationality of the assignee and any accompanying family members.
However, work permit applications generally involve obtaining a police clearance certificate, work permit application, entry visa application. Local registration prior to commencing work and enrolment with the Swiss health insurance system is also required for B work permits and L work permits.
Note that all local hire permits, whether long term or short term require a resident labour market test to be undertaken by the employing company prior to application unless the applicant is a senior manager, with at least 12 months of experience with the sending company, salary of at least 120,000CHF/annum transferring within the same group of companies to a management position in Switzerland
Applicants will be required to submit a variety of personal and corporate documents to support the application, including CV in a specific format, police certificate, lease contract in Switzerlands, Swiss Health insurance policy and proof of social security and support documents from both the sending and the Swiss entity.
Requirements will vary slightly according to the canton processing the application, the nationality of the applicant, the country of application and personal circumstances of the assignee and any family dependants. Some documents will need to be legalised and/or translated for all work permit routes which will add to timescales. Newland Chase can advise and assist on a case by case basis.
Processing times will vary according to visa type, nationality and country of application.
For long term work permits it typically takes 2-6 months to entry to Switzerland, and then 2-5 months to complete the process in country.
For short term work permits it typically takes anywhere between 2-5 months to entry to Switzerland , and then 1-3 months to complete the process in country.
Long term Work permit approval may be given for up to four years, but the actual permit card will be issued in increments of 12 months.
A Short Term (L) work permit is usually issued for a maximum period of 12 months and is renewable.
Short Term 4 Month Work Permit is issued for up to 4 Months and is not renewable.
The 8 day Work Permit is issued for 8 days and is not renewable.
The 120 day work visa only grants work permission for up to 120 days in a year. After the 12 months or calendar year (depending on canton) has elapsed, a new 120 day visa can be applied for.
It is strictly prohibited to carry out any work related activity on a Schengen visa or under the visa-waver agreement alone. As such, although for some of the short term permits, such as the 120 day permit, the assignee can enter the country on a C Schengen visa, the work permit application must be applied for prior to C visa application/entry.
For long term work permits, a Long Term Visa (Type D) must be obtained to enter Switzerland to work.
Therefore, although you can look for jobs during a visit, you would not be able to commence any form of employment until you have received a work permit, which generally involves returning to your country of residence to initiate the application process.
After 10 years of living in Switzerland, or less in certain situations, foreigners can apply for either Swiss citizenship or permanent residency depending on individual circumstances.
Permit C is a settlement permit for those who have been living for 10 continuous years in Switzerland; US and Canadian citizens only have to live for five continuous years to apply for a settlement permit.
You can leave Switzerland within this period for short amounts of time without it affecting your ‘continuous residence’, but you should contact the migration office in your own canton for specific details on this time period. You have to prove integration into Swiss society and may have to take a language proficiency course or examination in the official language of the canton in which you live.
It is important to ensure that the immigration part of the relocation process is started as early as possible and well in advance of your actual assignment date to Switzerland.
If the applicant will be locally hired, the position must be advertised for approximately one month (the exact timing expected may vary from canton to canton and on a case by case basis).
Personal documents will need to be legalised and translated if not in English, translations may also need to be certified. Processing times can be lengthy so sufficient lead time should be allowed for this.
Requirements and procedures may change on a frequent basis, so please consult with your Newland Chase Immigration Advisor for current and detailed information.