Essential How-To Guide

Swiss Work Permits – An Essential How-To Guide

Foreigners traveling to Switzerland do not require residents permits if they intend to stay for not more than 90 days. If you plan on staying longer and seeking employment, you will require a work permit.

Applying for a Swiss work visa

Before applying for a Swiss work visa, it is advisable to check the government website for specific cantons. The requirements for visa application vary. In most cases, your employer needs to make a work permit request from the office of foreigners (Amt fur Auslanderfragen).

The cost of work visas varies based on type and applicant’s nationality. They cost about $65 on average.

Here is a look at different Swiss visas available.

Employment-based visas and work permits

Employee work permits

EU/EFTA nationals

Expats from countries under EU/EFTA only require to apply for work authorization. The authorization to work in Switzerland, whether hired or self-employed is noted in your residential permit.

Non-EU/EFTA nationals

If you are not an EU/EFTA national, you must get authorization to work with your residence permit. You need authorization to work in Switzerland before entering the country. As a foreign worker, you are subjected to quotas in Switzerland. This means that only a specified number is distributed annually. As of 2017, the quotas were as follows:

  • 3000 for permit B holders (long term).
  • 4500 for permit L holders (short term).

According to the Swiss government, non-UE/EFTA nationals are only allowed to work in Switzerland if they are ‘highly qualified’. This refers to managers, specialists, and any other profession that requires skills. To qualify, one needs a university degree or one from a higher education institution, and years of professional experience. Also, the employer must prove that they failed to get a skilled Swiss national to fill the position before they hired you.

It is against the law to enter Switzerland as a tourist and seek to work. To be able to work, you will be required to exit Switzerland and apply again from your home country.

Essential How-To Guide

Visas for self-employment

EU/EFTA nationals

There is no provision for self-employment visas for EU/EFTA nationals. Interested nationals can apply for this visa under permit C. Certain requirements must be met to take up self-employment in Switzerland. They include:

  • Registration with communal authorities within 14 days of arrival into Switzerland. You will not be able to take up gainful employment until this step is completed.
  • Apply for a residence permit for self-employment through the cantonal immigration or labour authorities.
  • Prove that you meet the requirements for self-employment, which include a business plan, start-up capital and registration with the register of commerce in some cases.
  • Prove that you can maintain self-employment successfully.

The permit C visa is valid for 5 years once issued. Permits may be revoked if authorities find that you are unable to sustain self-employment or if you are found breaking rules and laws of self-employment.

Non-EU/EFTA nationals

Rarely will a non-EU/EFTA national be granted permission to be self-employed in Switzerland. However, you can contact your canton authority to inquire about special situations or specific requirements you need to meet to acquire the self-employment status.

Some of the requirements you need to meet include:

  • Must possess a residence permit C.
  • Must be a spouse or registered partner of a resident with the C permit.
  • Must be living in a registered partnership with a national of EU/EFTA.

If you do not meet any of the requirements above, you can seek self-employment if:

  • Your business idea is of economic interest.
  • You have the required operational and financial resources
  • You meet all the personal conditions.

You are required to submit your application to the office of economy and labour. They decide whether your business is good enough to earn you the self-employment status.

Whichever stage of the process you are in, you can be sure that cosmos Values can help with the process. Aside from helping with the work permit, cosmos values real estate experts can also help with finding a home for you in Switzerland and planning your move. This will make your move to Switzerland much easier.


If you have never moved before, the process of acquiring a residence and work visa is overwhelming. However, with the above information, you will have an easier time preparing and applying for your Switzerland work permit.