Switzerland has one of the most robust economies in the world with a workforce that is highly skilled. However, the number of workers entering Switzerland is closely regulated by the Swiss government. The number of work visas for Switzerland awarded to individuals from outside the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association has decreased recently (EFTA, which consists of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland).

The work permit for Switzerland

In contrast to most European nations, Switzerland requires that you have a residency permit before you can apply for an entry visa for business travel. On your behalf, your potential employer submits the application. This implies that you must be employed before applying for a visa to Switzerland. The Schengen category D visa for visits longer than 90 days is the Switzerland work visa.


You must fulfill the following criteria to be qualified for a work visa in Switzerland:

  • Have a work offer in Switzerland already.
  • Be a manager, expert, or very skilled employee.

Authorities take into account extra factors for many employees, including language proficiency, social adaptability, criminal history, and capacity to sustain yourself and any accompanying family members.

How to apply

After you find a job, your employer requests a work license from the immigration office in their particular Swiss canton. You now have the ability to reside and work over there. The SEM is then notified to approve the application.

As soon as you have a job lined up, you may start the process of applying for a work visa to Switzerland through the Swiss embassy or consulate in your place of residence. However, before your visa is issued, you must have a work license. The cantonal migration authority will get in touch with the embassy or consulate with visa clearance if your work license application is approved.

You need to include the following with your visa application form:

  • A photocopy of your passport or another acceptable form of identification for travel.
  • Your resume and copies of your academic and professional credentials.
  • The processing time for a visa application is typically 8 to 10 weeks.

Visa fees

Currently, a category D visa costs CHF 88. If you need the visa expedited or outside of regular business hours, you could have to pay more (up to 50% more than the typical fee). Along with the application, you must pay.

Switzerland work permits

Your work license practically serves as your residence permit. This is distinct from your work visa, which you must produce for border officials in order to enter Switzerland. While it is your responsibility to apply for a visa, your Swiss employer submits a work permit application to the cantonal immigration authorities.

Swiss work permit types

One of two types of licenses will be given to foreign workers who require a work visa:

Permit L

Obtain permit L to enter Switzerland temporarily and remain there for a maximum of one year. It is based on the conditions of the employment contract and may, in extraordinary circumstances, be extended for an additional year, but not beyond that if you stay employed by the same company.

Permit B

It is an initial or temporary residence permit with a one-year validity period that may be renewed annually if there are no reasons not to do so (e.g., being a recipient of welfare benefits). These licenses are given out in quotas and are associated with the same employer. It frequently states that you must reside in the canton where the permit was issued.

Permit C

You can apply for a Permit C, also known as a settlement permit if you have resided in Switzerland for ten consecutive years (or five if you are a citizen of the US or Canada). When they are qualified, people with long-term B permits in Switzerland frequently switch to C permits. 

Obtaining your permit

You must report to the cantonal immigration office that issued your permission before you begin working for your Swiss employer and no later than 14 days after your arrival, even when your company arranges for your Swiss license before you arrive in that country.

Usually, it is your responsibility to contact the cantonal authorities to renew your license if it expires. At the latest, two weeks before the expiration date, you must do this.

The price of a work permit varies by canton but is normally around CHF 160. In Switzerland, employers may agree to pay for permits.