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Switzerland Immigration Information Work Permit


Since 1998, Switzerland has a dual priority system for the issuance of work permits: this means priority is given to workers from EU member states and a more restrictive admission policy is operated for non-EU citizens.

Work permits are usually linked to residency permits. There are different types of residency permit – depending on nationality, type of employment contract, the industry in which you work and demand in the Swiss labour market.

EU Citizens

Since 2002, a Swiss/EU bilateral agreement has enabled easier entry, residency and employment in Switzerland for EU nationals as well as citizens from Norway, Iceland (EFTA members) and, conditionally, Liechtenstein.

EU citizens now have:

• free choice of residency and employment between the cantons (geographic mobility);
• the right to change jobs and employers (job mobility);
• the right to bring their family to Switzerland;
• a right to work for their family members.

Eventually, EU citizens will have complete freedom of movement within Switzerland and likewise for Swiss citizens in EU states. However, there will be a fixed quota for work permits until the 31st May 2007 of a maximum of 15,000 new long-term residence permits per year and 115,500 new short-term residence permits a year.

On the 31st May 2007, quotas for EU citizens wishing to work in Switzerland will be suspended. As of June 2009, Switzerland will decide whether or not to extend the agreement. If the response is positive, freedom of movement will be fully introduced between Switzerland and the EU as of June 2014.

For job searches lasting up to 3 months, EU citizens don’t need a permit for residence or work. If your search lasts longer, you have to apply for a residence permit for a further 3 months. These permits are not subject to quotas, and provide no access to the social security system in Switzerland.

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