FAQ – Frequently asked questions

Gainfully employed persons in the field of asylum 


Asylum seekers (N permit)

Asylum seekers (N permit) are people who have applied for asylum in Switzerland and whose application is being processed.  

Asylum seekers are not permitted to work in the first three months after submitting a request for asylum. The canton may extend this ban to six months if the person receives a negative asylum decision of first instance within the first three months. After this period, asylum seekers may be permitted to work temporarily under the following conditions: on application by an employer, if the economic and employment situation requires it, if the conditions regarding salary, working conditions and precedence are met, and on condition that the person is not subject to a final expulsion ruling. An asylum seeker does not have a legal right to employment.

Authorisation is required not only for taking up employment, but also for changing jobs or professions.

The employer should submit their request to the competent cantonal migration or employment office. Further information on cantonal migration and employment offices is available here:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Asylum seekers are not permitted to take up self-employment.

The application for a work permit for an asylum seeker must be submitted by the employer to the competent cantonal migration or employment office where the job is located (Art. 11 para. 3 FNIA). Further information on the cantonal migration and employment offices is available here:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Asylum seekers (N permit) require authorisation not only to take up employment, but also to change jobs or professions.


Recognised refugees (B permit), temporarily admitted refugees and other temporarily admitted foreign nationals (F permit)

Recognised refugees (B permit), temporarily admitted refugees and other temporarily admitted foreign nationals (F permit) are permitted to take up gainful employment (employed or self-employed) throughout Switzerland if the competent authorities are notified in advance (Art. 85a of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration FNIA) and if the salary and employment conditions customary for the location, profession and sector are fulfilled (Art. 65 para. 5 of the Ordinance of 24 October 2007 on Admission, Period of Stay and Employment ASEO in conjunction with Art. 22 FNIA).

If the activity is part of an employment programme, it is not subject to mandatory notification.

If the person is employed, then the employer must notify the authorities. If the person is self-employed, he or she must notify the authorities. If the activity is part of an integration programme implemented by a third party mandated as part of a cantonal integration programme (CIP) or for which there is a tentative agreement with the competent cantonal authority, the third party (e.g. aid organisation, communal or cantonal service, or a mandated institution) may notify the authorities about the activity. 

The competent cantonal authorities of the canton where the person is in gainful employment must be notified when a person starts and terminates a job. The authorities must be notified using a special form (available in German, French and Italian) containing the following information:

  • Personal data on the employee;
  • Details about the employer;
  • Details about the job.

The completed form should be sent to the competent cantonal authority by e-mail. No further documents are required.

Formular zur Meldung einer Erwerbstätigkeit   
Formulaire d’annonce de l’activité lucrative 
Modulo per la notifica di un’attività lucrativa   

Recognised refugees (B permit), temporarily admitted refugees and other temporarily admitted foreign nationals (F permit) may take up gainful employment anywhere in Switzerland once the authorities have been notified. However, working in a different canton from the canton of residence does not give a person a legal right to change the canton of residence. Such a change remains subject to authorisation.  

Recognised refugees (B permit), temporarily admitted refugees and other temporarily admitted foreign nationals (F permit) may change jobs. The authorities must be notified about the termination of the old job and the start of a new job.  


Training and further education for people from the field of asylum (B, F and N permit)

Under the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act, students and trainees are classified as employed and must, therefore, notify the authorities if they undergo training or further education.

Generally, any person from the field of asylum (B or F permit) may take up an apprenticeship or undergo training, regardless of their age, providing the authorities are notified.  

Asylum seekers (N permit) may only be permitted to undertake training or enter into an apprenticeship contract lasting several years if they are likely to remain in Switzerland for some time and are able to finish their training. Failing that, it may be in the young person’s interest if the authorities look into the possibility of them to participate in a shorter training, further education program or taking up an internship. All these options require a permit from the competent cantonal migration or employment office:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Foreign nationals who hold a residence permit (B permit) or who have been temporarily admitted to Switzerland (F permit) are not required to notify the authorities about trial apprenticeships and pre-vocational information gathering of up to two weeks, providing they are still in mandatory schooling or are completing a tenth school year.  

A further exception to the notification requirement applies to foreign nationals (B and F permit) under 17 years old who do occasional work, such as the jobs advertised on Pro Juventute’s jobs4teens or similar jobs, for a maximum of 100 hours per year to increase their pocket money.  

Trial apprenticeships and jobs for pocket money are not classified as employment according to the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act and are, therefore, not subject to notification. Work activities that last longer and placements during the school holidays or after the tenth school year are, however, classified as employment and are subject to authorisation and fees (in the case of asylum seekers) or subject to notification (for recognised refugees and temporarily admitted persons).


Trial work

People from the field of asylum do not need permission or to notify the authorities if the trial work does not last more than half a day and if the person may realistically be granted a work permit for the work in question. The maximum duration may be exceptionally extended up to one working day if justified. Further information should be obtained from the competent cantonal migration and employment office:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Trial work that does not require permission respectively notification should not be confused with the probation period under employment law (Art. 335b Code of Obligations). However, longer assignments are subject to authorisation respectively notification.


Self-employment

Recognised refugees (B permit), and temporarily admitted refugees and people (F permit) may be self-employed if they notify the authorities.

Asylum seekers (N permit) are not permitted to self-employment.  


Where can I obtain further information?

Further information is available in the Directives on Foreign Nationals and Integration in Chapter 4.8.5, regulating employment for people from the field of asylum (available only in German, French or Italian), or from the competent cantonal migration or employment office.
Directives on Foreign Nationals 
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

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