Starting 1998 Switzerland has employed a dual system for issuing work permits. Workers from EU/EFTA member states have priority according to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons and only a limited number of specialists or qualified workers from non-EU/EFTA can obtain work permits in Switzerland.
Work permits are usually linked to residence permits in Switzerland. For EU/EFTA states, citizens have the right to come and search for job opportunities for three months. This period could be extended for three more months during an active job search.
Work permits for EU citizens in Switzerland
Swiss work permits for EU/EFTA citizens are divided into categories and each one of them has a correspondent letter. The Swiss work permit is issued at cantonal level with the Federal Migration Office.
The short term Swiss work permit is defined by the letter L and its validity depends on the period of the employment contract. The L permit is usually given for periods of time ranging between 3 and 12 months. People planning to work in Switzerland for less than 3 months do not require a work permit.
The B residence permit or initial residence permit is granted to people with an indefinite employment contract or for people with a temporary contract of at least one year. This type of permit has 5-year validity and can be renewed for 5 more years if the employment continues. In case the employment contract has ended and the unemployment period has come to12 months, the B permit can be prolonged for one year only.
The C permit, also known as a permanent residence permit is granted to persons coming in 15 EU/EFTA countries and has an indefinite validity after the person has stayed for 5 uninterrupted years in Switzerland.
The G permit, or permit for the cross-border commuter, is for foreigners working in Switzerland that have to commute. Commuters must return to their resident country at least once a week. Nowadays, the G permit is not very much employed for EU countries.
EU/EFTA nationals have the right to:
Work permit for non-EU citizens in Switzerland
Non-EU/EFTA nationals can receive a work permit if the Swiss company can prove that it could not find a suitable Swiss or EU candidate for the opening.
Non-EU/EFTA citizens must receive an employment contract and a residence permit from the employer before coming to work in Switzerland.
The work permits for non-EU citizens can be broken down into: