Visas to Switzerland – the country offers a wide range of visas to foreigners who wish to travel and be in the country there for a short period or a longer period as residents.
You can choose a long-stay visa or a short-stay visa depending on your purpose of visit and the number of days you wish to be in the country.
If your period of stay is less than 90 days you can apply for a short-stay visa. Foreigners who wish to be in Switzerland for more than 90 days require a long-stay visa or a Permanent Resident permit to do so.
Why Switzerland Is A Favourite Destination Of Foreigners?
Lying in the heart of Europe Switzerland is a small country neighbouring Austria, Italy, France and Germany. This country has an area of 41,285 sq.Kms and a very small population which is around 8 Million.
Switzerland has four national languages- French, Italian, Romansh and German. Covered in scenic beauty and perfectly designed towns and cities, this country has an aura that is not found anywhere else in the world.
What Attracts International Tourists?
Switzerland has a booming economy and is one of the countries that have the lowest rate of unemployment in the world. This little country is also famous for its happy citizens and magnificent scenery.
The snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, green pastures, and emerald coloured lakes make the Swiss Alps one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world. The Matterhorn, considered to be the most iconic of all mountain peaks in the world, lies in the town of Zermatt.
The Swiss have a Railway System that is pretty impressive. This country is also famous for cheese and chocolates which are considered to be the best in the world. All these factors attract tourists from around the globe to this tiny nation.
What Attracts International Students And International Workers?
The educational system in Switzerland is quite impressive. This country is home to some of the best Universities in the world that offers degrees and diplomas recognized anywhere in the world.
There are a good number of international students doing a bachelors/masters/doctoral degree in Switzerland.
Switzerland offers good job opportunities to skilled workers and professionals from other nations. The country is also known for its excellent lifestyle and welcoming nature of its citizens. No wonder it is one of the most preferred destinations among international workers and migrants.
The Type Of Visa To Switzerland
The type of visa that a foreigner requires to travel to and be in Switzerland depends on his/her purpose of visit and the number of days she/he wish to spend there. The purpose of the visit may include the following.
- For a holiday/as a tourist
- For business
- For medical and health care
- As a student
- To do research
- For employment
- As a permanent resident
- To join your family
- To do an internship
- To attend a conference/workshop
- As a volunteer
Switzerland Visa Classifications
The visas to Switzerland are broadly classified into 3 types. They are:
Visas For Non-Immigrants
This is a temporary visa offered to international students and workers (on contract) who wish to be in the country for a fixed period.
Immigrant Visas To Switzerland
Foreigners who wish to stay for a long-period in Switzerland or live there permanently for work or as a migrant or for retirement require an immigrant visa to do so.
Short-Stay Visas To Switzerland
The short-stay visas are for people who wish to be in Switzerland for a period less than 90 days as a tourist, for a business, or to do a short-term course.
Do All Foreigners Require A Visa To Travel To Switzerland?
No. Not all international tourists and migrants require a visa to be in Switzerland. Depending on the country you belong to you may or may not require a visa.
Citizens Belonging To EU (European Union) / EFTA (European Free Trade Association)
- Switzerland is not a part of the EU but belongs to the EFTA along with countries like Norway and Iceland.
- The citizens belonging to the EU/EFTA do not require a visa to travel to those countries that are a part of the EU/EFTA and that includes Switzerland
- However, to stay over 3 months they require a residence permit.
- They also have to register themselves to work in this country
Non- EFTA/EU Citizens
- Citizens who do not belong to the EFTA and EU require a visa to stay in Switzerland for a period above 90 days
- The visa requirements for a short-stay (less than 90 days) depend on which country you belong to.
- Visa-free entry to Switzerland is granted to certain countries (for short-stay)
- A valid travel document is necessary to enter the country
- Non EFTA and EU citizens require one of the long-stay visas to study or work in this country
Short-Stay Visas To Switzerland
The following are some of the short-stay visas to Switzerland.
Visitors’ Visa/Tourist Visa
- The visitors’ visa/ the Tourist visa allows a foreigner to travel to Switzerland as a tourist or to visit family and friends living there
- This maximum time allowed under this visa is 90 days within the 180 days
- To get a visitors’ visa you are required to submit an invitation letter from your family/friends in Switzerland
Medical Visa To Switzerland
- This is a short-stay visa for medical treatment in Switzerland that allows you to be in the country for less than 90 days for medical and health care.
- You have to submit the Medical reports/Doctors certificate for the care and treatment that you underwent in your country
- Confirmation letter from the hospital in Switzerland where you are planning to undergo medical treatment
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover your medical costs in Switzerland/ Proof of insurance coverage
Swiss Transit Visa
An airport transit visa in Switzerland is necessary for certain nationals travelling to another country through Switzerland. They are:
- Sri Lanka
The people who are from the other nations can travel through Switzerland without a transit visa. However, they have to carry valid documents like a passport, air tickets, visas/travel documents
You are allowed to stay only within the airport-transit zone. Have to leave the country within 48 hours of arrival. Apply for this visa at least 15 days before your intended date of travel
Short-Stay Business Visa
This visa allows you to be in Switzerland for a short period for business reasons. The maximum time of stay in Switzerland under this visa is 90 days. Must have sufficient funds to support your entire stay in this country
Visa For Official Visit
- For those who are a part of an official delegation who plan to be in Switzerland for a conference or other official events
- Purpose and duration of visit must be mentioned along with the valid supporting documents
Visa For Sports/Cultural/Movie/Religious Events
- For religious leaders/sportspersons/ artists/actors to attend competitions, a stage performance show, movie shooting, a conference/religious meeting
- This is a short-stay visa
- The applicants have to submit valid documents supporting their qualifications and skills
Short-Stay Study Visas To Switzerland
- This study visa allows a foreign national to do a short-course in Switzerland
- Seminars, training programs, internship training, Training related to employment
- The maximum period of the course should be less than 90 days/ 3 months
- To do a longer course a student visa is required
Non-Immigrant Visas To Switzerland
- Foreign nationals who do not belong to the EFTA/EU who wish to stay in Switzerland for a period above 3 months require a long-stay visa along with a permit for residence.
- EU/EFTA nationals do not require a Swiss visa. However, they have to get a valid residence permit.
- The long-stay visa to Switzerland is referred to as the National Visa (Category D). The Cantonal Migration Authorities issues the long-stay visas to foreigners
Foreigners who wish to stay in Switzerland for a period longer than 90 days but who do not wish to migrate permanently has to apply for one among the following permits for residence.
These permits are for those people who wish to do a course or work in Switzerland for a fixed period
L Permit (Residence Permit)
- It is a residence permit for a short-period
- This is issued as a biometric card
- This is issued for 12 months and is non-renewable
- A job/ student contract that lasts up to a year
B Permit (Residence Permit)
- It is issued as a temporary permit for residence initially
- This is also a biometric card
- Could last for a period between 1 and 5 years
- This permit is renewable
- For a longer job/student contract
Student Visas To Switzerland
- International students who do not belong to the EFTA or the EU require a student visa to do a graduate course/post-graduate course /a doctoral degree in Switzerland
- The student may work a maximum of 15 hours every week on completing 6 months under this visa
- They may work full time during the holidays
Visas For Temporary Workers In Switzerland
- Only those who have already been offered a job in Switzerland can apply for a work visa
- Temporary work visas to Switzerland are for those who have got employment for a fixed period (Contract)
- The immigration rules in Switzerland do not permit a foreigner to come to this country on another visa and look for a job there
- You can get a temporary visa for work in this country as an au pair. However, you should be between 18 and 25 to get that visa
- You have to get the placement through an agency that works under the license of SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs)
Family Visa (Non-Immigrant)
- This is a family reunion visa that falls under Category D
- You get a temporary permit for residence with this visa
- For the family members/relatives of the Swiss resident/citizen can come to this country for a limited period that is more than 90 days. The following family members are eligible for this visa.
- The spouse
- Parents/Grandparents of a Swiss citizen or a resident in the EFTA/EU
- Submit all the valid documents including documents proving your relationship with the Swiss resident/citizen
- Proof of sufficient finances and insurance coverage
Immigrant Visas To Switzerland
A foreigner who wishes to migrate to Switzerland or plan to live in the country indefinitely has to apply for a Category D National VisaA temporary B residence permit is also required for those people coming to Switzerland for reuniting with family, for long-term work etc
- Switzerland offers permanent visas to only those individuals who satisfy certain requirements set by the country
- Permanent resident permits and visas are offered only if the individual has stayed in the country for a minimum of 5-10 years
- Besides they should also meet the following requirements:
- Ability to speak as well as write at least one of the national languages of Switzerland
- Assessment by the Swiss authorities to prove that you are not a national threat in any manner
- No criminal records
- You can support yourself without having to depend on Social welfare
- Proper integration into the society in Switzerland
Given below are some of the major types of immigrant visas to Switzerland
Visas For Family Reunion
- Using this visa the family members who are not from the EFTA/EU can join residents in Switzerland who have citizenship or is a permanent resident there
- Parents/grandparents may also join the Swiss resident if he/she is from the EU/EFTA
- Those living in Switzerland under the temporary resident permits(L and B) do not have the rights to bring in their family automatically
- However, they may get the consent to bring their family if they can prove they have sufficient means to accommodate and provide for them without having to depend on funds for the public
- Students who are on temporary residence permits cannot bring their family to Switzerland
- Children below the age of 12 including legally adopted children get the C permit for permanent residency while joining their parents in this country. They don’t need to meet the requirements for residence.
Switzerland Work Visas
- A work contract has to be secured in Switzerland before applying for a work visa
- The prospective employer in this country submits an authorization request with the SEM (State Secretariat for Migration)
- This authorization is given only to those citizens who do not belong to the EFTA/EU
- They are usually managers, highly skilled professionals, specialists (They can apply for the job only if the Swiss quota permits it
- There should be no EU/EFTA nationals who are qualified to do the job
- The B permit for residence is granted for long-term job contracts which may be renewed until you meet the requirements to apply for a C permit for settlement
- On obtaining the C permit you can move freely between the cantons in Switzerland and apply for employment anywhere in the country
Business Visas To Switzerland
- Only the citizens/Permanent residents in Switzerland can set up their businesses in Switzerland in general
- This country offers an investment visa for international entrepreneurs who can pay a lump sum tax annually which could be between 150,000 CHF and 1 Million CHF
- You’ll have to prove to the authorities that your business venture will create several job opportunities and economic gains
- The investor’s visa in Switzerland gets you a permanent residency in the country
Swiss Retirement Visa
- Citizens who do not belong to the EFTA/EU can choose to retire in this country on a Category D national visa if they meet the following requirements.
- Take a Swiss health insurance policy
- Have sufficient means to support their retirement lives in Switzerland
- Have close family ties who are residents/citizens there
- Own property in Switzerland or travel quite frequently there
- On completing all the requirements while on a B permit for residency they have the chance to apply for a C permit
- Only limited permits are granted by the SEM every year
- The chance of getting one depends on how strong your application is
- They may also apply for the Investor’s visa in Switzerland if they have the sufficient money required for investments
- Asylum can be claimed by any foreign nationals in Switzerland
- The application can be made at one of the airports in the country or a federal asylum centre
- The application should be supported by the valid evidence available on persecution in their native country/ safety threats
- During the process of reviewing the applications, the Asylum seekers can stay in the asylum reception centres
- You cannot apply for Asylum in Switzerland from a different country, however, he/she may apply for it at the Swiss consulate/embassy within that country
- They’ll determine whether the application is genuine and grant a temporary visa
- N Permit is granted and they may take up employment after 90 days of stay in the country
- After the successful completion of processing, they’ll be granted B Permits for residence
- They have the chance to apply for C permits in future and eventually could be granted citizenship in the country
- F permit is granted to those asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected but for some reason are unable to leave the country.
- The years spent in this country under the F permit only counts as half years for requirements for permanent residency
- A permit for residence is required for every foreigner who plans to stay in Switzerland for a period above 90 days. This includes citizens from the EU and EFTA
- The applications have to be submitted at the cantonal migration office that operates locally at the place where you intend to stay
Different Types Of Permits For Residence
Given below are the different types of permits for residence issued by the Swiss immigration authorities for foreign nationals.
L Permit (For Residence)
- Residence permits valid for 12 months and cannot be renewed.
- This is a short-term permit
- Renewable temporary permit for residence
- Valid for a year
C Permit For Residence
- This is a settlement permit that grants permanent residency in Switzerland
- Can be applied after 5 years if you are a citizen of the EU/EFTA/USA/Canada
- If you are a resident of a third world country you can apply for this permit after 10 years
- For the family of international workers in the governmental organizations/embassies/consulates in Switzerland
- The length of validity depends on the validity of the family member’s visa validity
- For Asylum seekers in Switzerland
- For asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected
- This visa is temporary
- Conditional permit that is temporary for people who require protection
- Cross border permits for commuters who work in Switzerland but live in a neighbouring country
- The permit is renewable but does not get any rights of the residents
Permits must be renewed at least 2 weeks before the date of expiry at the nearest cantonal immigration office.
Applying For Citizenship In Switzerland
- Valid C permit holders may apply for citizenship after 10 years of residence in Switzerland
- You may apply for citizenship in 5 years if you qualify for the process of simplified naturalization. (Eg: Married to a citizen of Switzerland)
- Once you get citizenship you get the right to vote
- You will also have to fulfil certain obligations in Switzerland like doing military service (Applicable to all men in Switzerland)
Once you arrive in the country you have to get yourself registered at the nearest Residents Registration Office within 2 weeks. If you intend to stay longer than 3 months you have to collect your permit for residence from the cantonal migration office closest to your place of stay.
In case your visa application gets rejected you can send a letter for appeal at the Swiss Embassy/Consulate within your native country. You have to clearly state the grounds on which you intend to contest the decision by the Swiss immigration authorities.