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Switzerland is one of the most economically successful countries in the world. This, coupled with high salaries, low income tax and a high standard of living, makes Switzerland a major destination of choice for international employees.
As Switzerland is not a member of the EU (though it is a member of the European common market and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)), the work visa rules in Switzerland can be somewhat different than elsewhere in Europe. This means that it is crucial for all businesses thinking of sponsoring a work visa in Switzerland, to carefully consider the applicable rules and regulations. The same goes for those interested in applying for such a visa.
Here we look in detail at the requirements for Switzerland work visas, as well as the steps you need to go through to acquire them.
It is worth noting that, even though Switzerland is not an EU member, bilateral treaties generally give EU citizens the right to work in Switzerland (with the exception of Croatia which is under temporary restrictions).
There are several types of work visas available in Switzerland, each with its own specific pre-requisites.
The process for applying for a work visa in Switzerland differs depending on the specific type of work visa that is being applied for, as well as the skills and experience of the applicant. However, generally speaking, the process proceeds as follows:
Applying for a Switzerland work visa as a non-EU/EFTA citizen is quite difficult. While the rigorous bureaucratic process itself is challenging, the biggest barrier is having a job offer in hand from an employer willing to meet the strict requirements for sponsorship.
Many find that the use of a Swiss or international recruitment agency is beneficial in tracking down an appropriate job and a willing employer. For more information, take a look at our guide to outsourced recruitment.
The processing time for a work visa in Switzerland varies, but in our experience, a visa can often be acquired in four to six weeks, as long as all the necessary documentation is provided to the canton, Federal Office for Migration, and the relevant Embassy or Consulate.
In Switzerland, you typically need sponsorship from an employer to apply for a work visa. Your employer must also have obtained a positive employment recommendation from the local canton and Federal Office for Migration.
This means that before an individual applies for a work visa, the employer must be able to confirm that the position the applicant will be filling is a qualified position and that no suitable candidates were found among the EU/EEA citizens.
The employer will also be responsible for submitting the necessary paperwork and paying the fee. Note that some visas do not require sponsorship, such as the G permit for cross-border commuters.