Those who pursue gainful employment in Switzerland or want to stay in the country for more than three months must apply for a permit at the cantonal migration office. Whether the concerned person is a national of an EU/EFTA state or a third-state national has a significant effect on the grant and modalities of a permit.
In case of a limited intention of stay, which would normally last less than a year, a Kurzaufenthaltsbewilligung (L) – short-term permit – would apply. Hereby EU-25/EFTA state nationals, unlike third-state nationals, who can prove that they hold an employment agreement lasting between three months and a year can assert a legal claim for this permit.
The Aufenthaltsbewilligung (B) – resident foreign nationals – is for those foreigners who will stay for a certain purpose for a longer period of time, with or without gainful employment. This permit also facilitates things for EU/EFTA states as a five-year period of validity is provided if you are in possession of an employment agreement that is open-ended or limited to at least 365 days. The first issue of a B permit for foreigners from third-state countries is limited to one year.
Should foreigners decide, after a stay of five or 10 years in Switzerland, to apply for the Niederlassungsbewilligung C – settled foreign national – a positive decree will lead to a unrestricted right of residence, which is unconditional. This type of residence permit allows for occupational changes within the whole of Switzerland, to become self-employed and to change from deduction of tax at source to “normal” taxation with individual tax declaration.
The Aufenthaltsbewilligung mit Erwerbstätigkeit (Ci) – residence permit with gainful employment – presents an entirely different type of permit. It is intended for spouses and children (up to the age of 25 years) of officials of intergovernmental organisations and foreign representatives, as these family members are granted their stay based on the duration of the main holder’s function.
Distinguished from the above are people with a Grenzgängerbewilligung G – cross-border permit. These are foreigners who have their residence in a foreign border zone and are employed within the neighbouring border zone of Switzerland.
In addition to the above listed permit types, Swiss migration law includes the permits N (asylum-seekers), F (provisionally admitted foreigners/refugees) and S (people in need of protection). You can find more information about these topics at this govermental website.
Our partner FABIA is a great source of information and can offer specific advice for free.