The Swiss C permit is the equivalent of permanent residency, allowing a non-Swiss citizen to work and live in Switzerland without any restrictions. The permit C holder does not need an authorization to change employment or develop an independent activity. Additionally, the C permit allows working in any cantons of the country. The C permit is delivered for 5 years, and must be renewed by the holder 14 days before the date of expiry. The permit also expires automatically after 6 months spent outside Switzerland, however an authorization of absence can be requested allowing to suspend the permit for a period of maximum 4 years while living abroad.
From January 2018, holding a C permit will provide a key advantage: it is a mandatory requirement to be able to apply for Swiss citizenship. Thus, the new law on Swiss naturalization requests to hold a C permit to apply while until now, applicants could apply with a legitimation card or Ci permit for example.
The C permit is granted on request of the applicant on two conditions:
If the applicant has lived in Switzerland for at least 10 years on a B or L permit (permits N, F are not taken into account) and if the last 5 years have been spent in the country without any interruption.
If there is no reason for the permit being refused (criminal record).
The C permit is granted after 5 years of legal residence in Switzerland to:
Spouses of Swiss nationals or holders of C permits as from the date of marriage in Switzerland or the date of entry into Switzerland in the case of marriage abroad.
Citizens of EU 28 countries.
The fast-tracked permit or “permis C anticipé”:
The required time of 10 years of residency in Switzerland for all other applicants may be shortened for important reasons which are not necessarily economic or tax-related. Thus, it is granted at the end of an uninterrupted stay of 5 years on request of the applicant if the following requirements are demonstrated:
In the case of successful integration of the applicant and family members aged 12 years and over.
Respect of the Swiss legal system and Constitutional values.
Knowledge of French (for the canton of Geneva) at A2 level.
Willingness to participate in the economic and social life of the country and to adapt.
If the applicant has already held a C permit previously for at least 10 years and has not lived abroad for more than 6 years.
The C permit is also automatically granted to:
Children of a Swiss citizen or C permit holder in the context of a family reunification process.
Professors teaching at university level (UNI, EPF, IHEID).
Professors teaching at technical schools (HES or HEP).
Unfortunately, legitimation card holders are not eligible to obtain a C permit, except in specific circumstances such as when retiring or for children of UN staff born in the country having lived and studied for more than 12 years in Switzerland.