The benefits of labor migration to Switzerland are obvious. In terms of living standards, observance of rights and freedoms, economic development, social security and medical care, the country is a leader not only in Europe but also in the world. For example, the average salary in Switzerland in 2024, regardless of industry, is about 6 thousand euros per month. According to official statistics, only 10% of Swiss citizens receive less than 3.7 thousand euros. What to talk about if the poverty line in the country per person is 2.1 thousand euros.

Work visa to Switzerland

An open work visa to Switzerland for foreigners from third countries is literally "winning the lottery". The document is issued to a very limited number of experienced professionals with a profession that is scarce for the local labor market. By the way, most qualified foreigners legally working in Swiss companies earn more than 10 thousand euros a month. Especially in cities such as Zurich or Geneva. How to get a work visa to Switzerland in 2024 and the main requirements for workers from abroad will be discussed below.

Registration of a work visa to Switzerland

Unemployment in Switzerland in 2024 does not exceed 2-3%. Of course, the local authorities seek to provide jobs primarily for their own citizens, so access to vacancies for foreigners is significantly limited. For example, in February 2014, a referendum was held in the country, where Swiss citizens supported the government's initiative to introduce stricter measures (quotas) in relation to labor migrants. The changes were to come into force in February 2017, after the relevant amendments to the Constitution.

Today, the initiative is in limbo, but sooner or later the mechanism is likely to work. As a result, work permits in Switzerland will be issued solely on the basis of the country's economic interests, the employer's real needs for specialists from abroad and the foreigner's ability to integrate into Swiss society. Moreover, the norm applies to all labor migrants regardless of citizenship, including the countries of the European Union.

Of course, this will only complicate the process of obtaining work visas to Switzerland for applicants from abroad. At present, the priority right to employment is given to local residents. Next are EU and EFTA citizens (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) who do not require a work visa, and only in case of employment for a period of more than 3 months must register and obtain a work permit.

Foreigners from third countries may only work in Switzerland within quotas and subject to a number of additional requirements. Quotas for foreign workers are set quarterly. The government usually allocates 4,000 category L and 4,500 category B permits each year. Many Swiss companies really need foreign specialists and local authorities make certain concessions.

Conditions for obtaining a work visa to Switzerland

With few exceptions, foreigners can get a work visa in Switzerland under the following conditions:

  • Availability of high qualifications, supported by a diploma of higher education and work experience for several years. A great advantage will be training in a Swiss university. Information technology and the pharmaceutical industry are among the most in-demand professions in Switzerland.

  • No local residents or EU/EFTA nationals apply for the vacancy.

  • The jobs are within the established quotas.

  • Salaries and working conditions are generally in line with Swiss norms in the specific canton and industry.

  • Ability to integrate professionally and socially, including language skills, age of the applicant and availability of housing.

Some relaxations of conditions are provided for in the case of:

  • Transfer of employees within the same company to a Swiss subsidiary. These are mainly managers and experienced professionals.

  • Temporary employment in the form of providing services to a company headquartered in Switzerland.

  • Special international projects.

Important. Employers who hire foreigners who do not have the right to work in Switzerland are subject to heavy administrative fines and criminal penalties (imprisonment for up to one year). Similar sanctions are applied to illegal labor migrants. At a minimum, deportation is guaranteed.

Procedure of labor migration to Switzerland

Procedure of labor migration to Switzerland

Before applying for a work visa to Switzerland, you need to go through a certain procedure, without which it is impossible to get a stamp in your passport. First of all, it is necessary to find a local company that will agree to hire a foreigner from a country outside the EU and EFTA. Theoretically, it is possible to visit Switzerland on a tourist or other visa in order to search for a job and pass the interview. However, the applicant must be in his or her home country while the authorization documents are being processed.

Do not forget about the quota system and the priority right to employment for Swiss and Europeans. For a minimum of 21 calendar days, the vacancy must be publicly available. During this time, local agencies and the employer itself are actively searching for an applicant. Only then is an application for a third-country applicant submitted to the cantonal employment office and the local migration office. The specific requirements vary from canton to canton. In any case, the employer is responsible for processing the work permit.

Note. The foreigner is required to send a resume, copies of passport, diplomas, certificates and other documents confirming qualifications and then apply to the Swiss diplomatic office for a work visa.

After verification at the cantonal level, the applicant's information is sent to the State Secretariat for Migration for approval. If the application is approved at the federal level, the cantonal migration office forwards the information on the possibility of issuing a work visa to the Swiss Embassy in the foreigner's country.

Depending on the canton and the nationality of the foreigner, the procedure for obtaining a work permit in Switzerland can take between 1 and 4 months. From the moment the work visa is issued and the applicant arrives on Swiss territory, he/she has two weeks to register and obtain a residence permit in Switzerland with the right to work at the local migration office. Only then can the applicant start work.

Types of work and residence permits in Switzerland

Permit L – allows you to work and live in Switzerland if you have a valid employment contract for one year. In exceptional cases, it can be extended for a maximum of 12 months, provided that the employer remains the same.

Permit B – initially issued for one year and then renewed annually for a similar period. The permit is strictly linked to the canton and the employer with whom the employment contract is concluded.

Permit C – a long-term permit, which is issued after residence in Switzerland for at least 10 consecutive years. It allows the foreigner to change jobs and confers a host of other privileges.

Documents for a work visa to Switzerland

To open a work visa, the applicant must apply in person to the visa office of the Swiss Embassy in the country of residence. Usually foreigners are issued a long-term national visa (type D), allowing to stay and work in Switzerland for more than 3 months. It should be reminded that a work permit must be issued beforehand.

Documents for a work visa to Switzerland

List of documents for a work visa to Switzerland

  1. Correctly filled out and signed by the applicant 3 copies of the visa application form in English or in one of the official languages of Switzerland – German, French, Italian.

  2. A passport (2 pages blank) issued not later than 10 years ago and whose validity will not expire for at least 3 months from the date of planned departure from Switzerland. Plus three copies of the personal data pages and two copies of the last 2 Schengen visas (if available).

  3. Original and a copy of a civil passport.

  4. Four standard color photographs (ICAO regulations) taken shortly before applying for a visa, of which 3 are glued on the application form and 1 is attached separately.

  5. Original and two copies of the employment contract.

  6. Work permit (original or copy).

  7. Certificate of no criminal record.

  8. A receipt for the payment of the consular fee.

In certain situations, representatives of the Swiss Embassy have the right to request additional or clarifying information from the foreigner. The period of consideration of documents on average takes 1.5-3 months.

Cost of a work visa to Switzerland

The fee for a work visa to Switzerland is charged in the form of a consular (visa) fee at the time of submission of the application and a list of documents to the Swiss diplomatic office. The amount is paid in cash in the national currency of the country in which the applicant is applying for a visa. Therefore, the price may be adjusted depending on the exchange rate.

In case of refusal to issue a work visa to Switzerland, the amount of visa fee is not refunded to the foreigner.

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