FAQ – Frequently asked questions

Non member EU/EFTA

Conditions for entering and staying in Switzerland

Paragraph of the Directives relating to the Law on Foreign Nationals contains the most important regulations in brief (available only in German, French or Italian).

The Law on Foreign Nationals, in force since 1 January 2008, has introduced the following changes:
Au pairs from third countries (e.g. USA, Canada, Thailand, etc.) can only receive permits if they are placed through an agency which is approved and licensed by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Currently there are only few such agencies specialising in the placement of au-pairs (e.g. pro filia). However, we expect the number to increase throughout the year. Au pairs may now be placed only if they are between 18 to 25 years old.

Placement through an agency is not necessary if employing au pairs from EU/EFTA countries. The age range for au pairs from EU/EFTA countries remains between 17 and 30 years of age. Au pairs from "old" EU or EFTA member states (e.g. France, Spain, UK, Norway, etc.) receive their short-time residence permit or residence permit after presenting a work contract and registering themselves with the communal authorities. Au pairs from the new EU member states (e.g. Poland, Slovakia) still require a residence permit from the cantonal authorities: 
List with contact details 

Yes, you need to apply for a residence permit issued for the purpose of gainful employment. This permit will only be issued if practical training is an integral part of your study course.

Whether or not you possess a residence permit valid for an EU/EFTA state does not affect your status in Switzerland. You are subject to the same provisions on entry and work as people who enter Switzerland from a third state. As a rule, you will need to apply for an entry visa, which will be issued by the Swiss diplomatic representation abroad as soon as you have been granted a work permit.
Provisions on entry

Note: If you are employed by a business enterprise headquartered in an EU/EFTA state and sent to Switzerland to work, the Agreement on the freedom of movement of persons allows you to stay in Switzerland for ninety days. You only need to notify the appropriate authorities. For further information click here: 
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

A job offer alone is not enough to make you eligible for a work permit. First, future employers are required to proceed according to the recruitment priorities applicable in Switzerland and in the pertinent EU/EFTA states. Second, they must make sure that all requirements regarding professional qualifications and salary and work conditions are met and clearly show why you qualify. Third, there must be a vacancy in the foreign employment quota.

You find a summary of the most important criteria of admission here: 
Criteria of admission

Apply to the migration authority of the canton in which you wish to study. A list of all cantonal migration authorities you find here: 
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities


First, you need confirmation from a Swiss employer that offers you employment. Once such confirmation is available, the procedure is as follows: 

A list of the addresses of cantonal employment services you find here: 
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Detailed informations you find here: 
Registration forms

Get advice from the appropriate cantonal authorities whether additional forms are required.

Several authorities are involved in the permission granting procedure - Swiss diplomatic representations abroad, cantonal migration and employment services, and the State Secretariat for Migration. Given the multitude of agencies involved, there is no exact telling how long an individual procedure for granting work and residence permits may take. Regular cases requiring no or little extra inquiries (for instance, transfer of top managers to international business enterprises, top scientists) are usually handled within about three weeks, provided the documents submitted are complete. First-time applications by enterprises or in cases requiring particular inquiries may take some time to process.

Social security (Old Age, Survivors’ and Disability Insurance, OASI/DI; Compulsory Pension Act, CPA; Accident Insurance Act AIA; etc.).)

Ask your social security company to provide you with a statement of your balance.

  • BVG (occupational benefit plans, 2nd pillar): ask the pension fund your employer has registered with.

Family reunion

Sorry, for the time being, information on family reunion is available in German, French, and Italian only.

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