In Switzerland, an authorization to reside in the country or “permis de séjour” is mandatory (Art. 11 Foreign Nationals Act). However, a distinction is made between citizens’ members of the EU-27/EFTA* (European Free Trade Association) and non-European citizens.
*Allemagne, Autriche, Belgique, Bulgarie, Chypre, Danemark, Espagne, Estonie, France, Finlande, Grande-Bretagne, Grèce, Hongrie, Irlande, Italie, Lettonie, Lituanie, Luxembourg, Malte, Pays-Bas, Pologne, Portugal, Roumanie, Slovaquie, Slovénie, Suède, Tchéquie, Islande, Norvège, Liechtenstein
Despite the fact that Switzerland is not a member of the EU, the same conditions apply to EU citizens wishing to work on Swiss territory. Switzerland has signed the freedom of movement agreement as part of the bilateral accord with the EU, allowing EU/EFTA citizens to enter, reside and work in the country.
EU/EFTA citizens are allowed to stay in Switzerland up to three months without an authorization, a simple announcement to the relevant authorities is sufficient. For a stay longer than 90 days, an authorization in the form of a work permit (L, B) must be requested to the Swiss authorities. To obtain a permit, the applicant must hold a work contract signed by a Swiss employer.
For non-Europeans, rules are tighter. They must first obtain a residency permit before moving to Switzerland and hold a work contract and an appropriate work visa to enter the country. The employer must prove however, that no one else on the local market (Swiss + EU) fulfilled the requirements for the position. Additionally, non-European workers are subjected to cantons’ quotas for residency permits. Only a certain number of permits are delivered each year to non-European workers.
Therefore, obtaining a work permit in Switzerland relies on different factors: whether the applicant is a EU-27/EFTA citizen or not, the obtention of a work contract, the current quotas in force and the skills held by the applicant.