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Switzerland Work Visas & Work Permits

How to get Switzerland work visas and more useful information to help you hire foreign workers in Switzerland.

If your organization is expanding into Switzerland in the near future, you may need to bring along some of your experienced employees to help with the process. To do this, you’ll need work visas for Switzerland. 

While it is perfectly possible to get work visas for your employees, the process can be difficult to navigate, with language barriers, complex administrative procedures, and multiple categories of visas to choose from. If you fail to properly follow the process, you could encounter expensive delays.

At Horizons, our expansion experts offer comprehensive Switzerland work visa services, immigration support, and outsourcing, giving your business everything necessary to expand into Switzerland with the help of your indispensable workforce.

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Standard requirements for Swiss work visas

Switzerland is not a member of the EU and its visa system is distinct from large areas of the continent. The country has relatively strict immigration rules and has further restricted access in recent years by bringing in quotas. In addition, the different cantons, or regions, can vary in their policies. Despite this, there are some general requirements that you will usually need to meet, such as:
  • A valid passport
  • An application fee
  • A job offer
  • Having a recognized skill and proven experience/qualifications
  • Having some level of ability in the language of the relevant canton

Types of work visas for Switzerland

For nationals of EU/EFTA member states, the work visas are as follows: 

  • L visas: short-term visas that require an employment contract of between three and 12 months.
  • B visas: a residence permit for people with employment contracts lasting at least 12 months. Also valid for the self-employed.
  • C visas: an indefinite-term visa that can be applied for after living in Switzerland for five years.
  • G visas: specifically designed for workers who live in a different EU/EFTA country and work in Switzerland. Holders must return to their country at least once per week.

For nationals of non-EU/EFTA member states, the visa system is different and more difficult. Usually, a visa is dependent on sponsorship from an employee, and employers must demonstrate that a Swiss/EU/EFTA national cannot be hired for the position. Additionally, applicants should be able to speak a language, such as Swiss German or Swiss-French, of the canton they will reside in. 

The relevant visas for non-EU/EFTA nationals are also divided into letters (L, B, and C) for short, medium, and long-term residency, but the requirements are more strict and terms vary slightly.

Obtaining work visas for Switzerland

The exact requirements for each type of visa are different, and each canton also regulates their visas differently, so it is crucial that you understand what visa and area are relevant to you. To find out the up-to-date and specific requirements, you can go to the website of the relevant canton. 

It is also important to apply in good time, ideally several weeks before you will need to use the visas.

Further considerations

Due to strict requirements and quotas, it can be difficult to bring all the employees you may want to to work for you in Switzerland. Generally, senior management and highly-skilled workers will have a simpler time, so consider bringing these types of employees preferentially. 

If any of your employees wish to bring family members with them to Switzerland, the additional family members will need to be approved by the relevant canton in advance.

How can Horizons help?

At Horizons, we specialize in helping organizations expand abroad, including into Switzerland, and we are experts in obtaining work visas to help employees relocate. Our Switzerland work visa specialists offer reliable guidance and outsourcing services to support you through Switzerland’s complex immigration process rapidly and effectively. We can ensure that you and your valued employees are fully compliant with Switzerland’s unique regulations, save you time, and answer any questions you may have along the way. 

Additionally, we provide extensive outsourcing services covering recruitment, payroll, HR, administration, employer of record, and more to help your business start trading in Switzerland as efficiently as possible, even if you don’t have an established subsidiary in the country.