Obtaining a work permit in Switzerland depends on various factors, including the country of origin, the skills a person has and quotas.
Switzerland country has a dual system that allows foreigners to work. Citizens from the EU are generally allowed to come to Switzerland for three months while they look for work. The period can be extended to up to six months. Citizens from all other countries must have a guaranteed work contract from an employer and an appropriate work visa before they are allowed to enter the country. Just by having a job it’s not a guarantee to receive a permit. However, Switzerland continues to provide priority to its domestic employees and applies a separate quota system.
EU citizens that don’t work more than 90 days per calendar year are not required to register with the authorities. However, an online registration is required for any work activity of more than 8 days per calendar year. For some work activities, online registration is necessary even from the first day of work. Self-employed service providers and persons who are being sent to Switzerland from a foreign company are required to obtain a permit if their cross-border services exceed the duration of three months per calendar year.
Citizens from Bulgaria and Romania are required to obtain a work and residence permit prior to starting their job in Switzerland, even if they are employed by a company for less than three months. These regulations were set for these two countries until 2016. However, these regulations are momentarily in order only until 2017, when Switzerland renegotiates its bilateral accord with the EU on the free movement of people, or it might be revoked.
Citizens that are non – EU members should know that the number of non – EU immigrants is limited by a strict quota systems, based on various criteria.
Switzerland grants various types of permits:
- Short – term permits, ranging from 3 to 12 months, granted to people who work in the country for less than a year. EU citizens receive this permit after being in the country for three months and that are looking for a job.
- Initial residence permits, granted to persons who have an unlimited employment relationship, lasting for at least 12 months. It is valid for 5 years and can be extend as long as the employment relationship continues. The permit may be limited to one year, if a person is unemployed for more than 12 consecutive months.
- Permanent residence permits, granted to EU citizens after a regular and uninterrupted stay of 5 years in Switzerland.
- Cross – border commuters are persons who live in a border zone and work in another border zone in Switzerland. It is no longer necessary for EU citizens to have a permit if they’re commuters, however, they do have to return to their residence abroad at least once a week.
- Citizens of the EU or EFTA member states with the exception of Romania and Bulgaria are no longer required to register with the Swiss authorities if they work less than three months or 90 days per calendar year. Self-employed service providers and persons who are sent from a company to render services in Switzerland are not required to obtain a work permit for cross-border services, as long as their activities do not last longer than three months or 90 days per calendar year. As a general rule, online registration with the Swiss authorities is required for any work activity lasting more than 8 days.
- Work activities in the primary and auxiliary construction industry, hotel and restaurant businesses, cleaning industry, security and surveillance services must be registered on the very first day of business operation. This rule also applies to commercial travellers. Online registrations are free of charge and registrations sent by fax or e-mail are not accepted.
- Self-employed service providers and persons who are being sent to Switzerland by various companies are required to obtain a work permit if their cross-border services exceed three months or 90 days per calendar year. A D1 permit application must be submitted to the cantonal authority in which the person will be operating from.
- EU and EFTA citizens being employed by a Swiss company are required to submit application forms in order to obtain a work permit depending on their work contracts. A K1 form is submitted for a short-term permit application which has a span of up to 4 months of uninterrupted stay or 120 sporadic days per year and an A1 form is submitted for a short term permit application which has a span of up to one year based on a limited employment contract. The same A1 form is submitted also for a long-term permit application which has a span of up to 5 years while based on an unlimited employment contract.
- Individuals who deliver services whilst in a self-employed status for one year must submit the SE1 permit application form, for sole proprietorship or GmbH, together with a business plan, proof of financial means and a certificate of registration, in the case of a GmbH.
- People who are part of the EU-15 member states and EFTA citizens can be issued a permanent residence permit after 5 years of uninterrupted stay in Switzerland. Citizens of the EU-8 member states and citizens from Malta and Cyprus can be issued a permanent residence permit after 10 years of uninterrupted stay in Switzerland, which is still subject to renewal after 5 years.
- Romanian and Bulgarian citizens working in primary and auxiliary construction, hotel and restaurants, cleaning, security and surveillance services,, must acquire a work permit prior to the first day of work. This rule also applies to commercial travelers. In order to obtain a work permit, it is necessary to submit a K8/B8 application form to the cantonal authority.
- Romanians and Bulgarians sent by a company in Switzerland must obtain a work and residence permit prior to starting their job in the country. In order to acquire a work permit for longer than three months / 90 days per calendar year, Romanian and Bulgarian citizens must submit a D1 permit application form to the cantonal authority, which then reviews this application against the priority of domestic employees, salary level and working conditions.Even if they work for less than three months / 90 days, Romanian and Bulgarian citizens must obtain a work permit prior to starting their job in Switzerland. In order to obtain a work permit, it is necessary to submit a K8 form for a short-term work permit with a span of up to 4 months of uninterrupted stay or 120 sporadic days and a B8 form for a short-term work permit which has a span of up to one year based on a limited business contract. The same form is submitted to obtain a long-term work and residence permit for up to 5 years, based on an unlimited employment contract.