This article is reviewed regularly by Wego‘s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.

Updated May 2024

Imagine waking up to the serene sound of cowbells in the Swiss Alps, savoring the rich taste of world-class chocolate, and enjoying the benefits of one of the highest standards of living in the world.

If you’ve ever dreamt of starting a new life in Switzerland, 2024 might be your year. This stunning country, famous for its breathtaking landscapes and efficient public services, has always been a top destination for those seeking a fresh start.

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In this article, Wego will guide you through everything you need to know about immigrating to Switzerland in 2024, from visa requirements to finding a place to call home. Continue reading to learn more!

Immigrating to Switzerland

Immigrating to Switzerland involves navigating its visa process, which can be straightforward if you have the right information. You’ll need to apply for a visa based on your reason for moving, whether it’s for work, study, or joining family.

Furthermore, it is also essential to know the two types of visas that Switzerland has to offer. For short visits up to 90 days within a 180-day period, you’ll need a Schengen Visa Type C, especially if you plan to work, as a work permit is also required. For longer stays over 90 days, you’ll need a National Visa (Visa D), which is managed by the cantonal migration offices.

Switzerland work visa

Switzerland has a dual system for allowing foreigners to work in the country. For citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the process is relatively straightforward. They can enter Switzerland without a visa and look for work for up to three months.

If they find a job and plan to stay longer than three months, they must get a Swiss residence permit. For non-EU/EFTA nationals, obtaining a Switzerland work visa is essential before arriving. This requires having a job offer from a Swiss employer and being highly qualified, typically with a degree and several years of professional experience.

Documents required

To apply for a Switzerland work visa, you’ll need the following documents:

  • completed application form
  • copy of your passport
  • proof that the job vacancy has been advertised in the regional employment office and within the EURES system
  • copies of the job advertisement
  • information on other job search efforts
  • confirmation from an appointed employment agent
  • detailed curriculum vitae
  • proof of qualifications (education certificates and references)
  • job description or duties of the position
  • signed contract of employment

However, it is important to note that additional requirements may be necessary in specific situations.

Application process

The process of obtaining a Swiss work visa involves several steps:

  • secure a job offer from a Swiss employer.
  • apply for a Switzerland Work Visa
  • your employer applies for a residence permit

Once you have a job offer, the application process includes the following steps:

  • your employer submits the necessary documents to the cantonal employment or immigration authority.
  • if you require a visa, you must also apply for Swiss representation abroad that covers your place of residence.
  • the cantonal employment or immigration office reviews the application based on the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act and makes a preliminary decision.
  • submission to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). Approved applications are forwarded to SEM for final approval.
  • SEM reviews the application according to nationwide admission criteria.
  • the SEM sends the official decision to the applicant, employer, and cantonal authorities. The employer must pay a fee for this decision.
  • for those requiring a visa, the cantonal immigration authority issues the electronic visa authorization to the Swiss representative abroad based on SEM’s approval.
  • finally, the visa can be collected from the Swiss representation abroad.

For a comprehensive guide on the visa, please refer to our dedicated article on the Switzerland work visa. 

Living in Switzerland

Living in Switzerland is a unique experience with its stunning landscapes and high quality of life. The country is known for its efficient public services, safe environment, and excellent healthcare and education systems. Residents also enjoy a rich cultural scene and diverse outdoor activities year-round.

Residency in Switzerland

Residency in Switzerland comes with several practical benefits:

  • open a bank account
  • access to healthcare services
  • driver’s licence
  • job opportunities
  • property ownership

Switzerland resident permit

If you plan to stay in Switzerland for more than three months, you must apply for a Swiss residence permit. This applies to everyone, whether you are from the EU/EFTA or another country. You need to apply for the permit within 14 days of arriving in Switzerland.

The first step is to register at your local Residents Registration Office, then arrange to get your residence permit from the migration office of the canton you will live in. Each of Switzerland’s 26 cantons has its own migration office and requirements, so it’s important to contact the local office for specific details.

The most common types of Swiss residence permits are:

  • Permit L for short-term residence: Valid for up to one year, renewable to a maximum of 24 months. It is issued for specific jobs or companies.
  • Permit B for initial or temporary residence: Issued to EU/EFTA nationals for five years; non-EU/EFTA nationals for one year. It is ssued for work or study, requiring a work contract of at least one year or enrollment in a Swiss educational institution.
  • Permit C for permanent residence: It is available to non-EU/EFTA nationals after 10 continuous years in Switzerland. It is also available to EU/EFTA nationals and US and Canadian citizens after five years. It allows unrestricted job changes and freedom to live anywhere in Switzerland.
  • Permit G for cross-border commuting: For workers living in another country but working in Switzerland. It is renewable yearly and valid for the duration of the work contract, up to five years.
  • Permit Ci: Issued to spouses and children (up to 25 years) of inter-governmental organizations or foreign embassy workers. It also allows the holder to work in Switzerland as long as the family member is assigned there.
For EU/EFTA nationals

Citizens of EU/EFTA countries benefit from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), allowing them to stay and work in Switzerland for up to three months without special authorization. If their work contract lasts three months or less, they only need to declare their presence.

For stays or employment exceeding three months, EU/EFTA nationals must register within 14 days of arriving in Switzerland at their local commune to obtain a residence permit. They need to present a valid ID or passport and a work certificate or a declaration of employment from their employer.

Based on the length of their employment, they will receive either a short-term residence permit (EU/EFTA L permit for up to 364 days) or a long-term residence permit (EU/EFTA B permit for at least one year).

For non-EU/EFTA nationals

Citizens from outside the EU/EFTA always require a work and residence permit, regardless of the length of their stay. Upon arriving in Switzerland, they must register with the local residents’ registration office within eight days.

Non-EU/EFTA nationals can only be admitted for work if they are highly qualified, such as managers, specialists, or professionals with university degrees and several years of experience. Employers must ensure that foreign employees have the necessary authorization and must demonstrate that no suitable candidate was found in Switzerland or the EU/EFTA and that training a local employee was not feasible in a timely manner.

Certain professions in health, teaching, and justice are regulated and require specific qualifications. Foreign diplomas in these fields must be recognized by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SEFRI).

Switzerland student visa

To study in Switzerland, you need proof of acceptance from the educational institution where you will be studying. Depending on your nationality, you can either apply for a residence permit in a Swiss canton with this letter or submit a visa application to the Swiss representation in your country.

Citizens of Schengen countries are exempt from needing a visa but must still secure a residence permit.

Documents required

When applying for a Switzerland student visa, you will need several documents:

  • completed and signed application forms in German, French, Italian, Spanish, or English.
  • a valid passport with at least two empty pages, valid for at least three months after your planned departure from Switzerland, along with three copies of the relevant pages and previous visas.
  • four recent passport-sized biometric photos.
  • proof of sufficient funds, either through bank statements or a letter from the bank, provided by you or your sponsor.
  • proof of payment for the first year’s course fees.
  • a certificate of enrollment from your school.
  • your study plan, including copies of previous educational certificates and diplomas.
  • a letter of motivation in one of Switzerland’s official languages, outlining your future professional plans.
Application process

The application process for a Swiss student visa involves several steps:

  • make an appointment at the Swiss embassy or consulate in your country.
  • download, complete, and sign the application form. (Forms may also be available at the Swiss representation where you apply.)
  • submit your documents in person at the Swiss embassy or consulate.
  • pay the Swiss student visa fee.
  • after submitting your application, the Swiss representation will forward it to the relevant cantonal migration office in Switzerland. Once the cantonal immigration office approves your application, the Consulate General of Switzerland will issue your visa.

Financial aspect of living in Switzerland

Living in Switzerland entails managing your finances effectively, as the monthly expenses typically range from CHF 3,000 to 5,000 covering accommodation, food, transportation, and other necessities. While the robust Swiss Franc reflects the country’s economic stability, it also contributes to higher prices for imported goods and services, elevating the overall cost of living.

Despite the higher expenses, residents benefit from exceptional healthcare and education systems, though mandatory health insurance premiums and education costs can be significant. Additionally, while Switzerland offers high wages, the competitive housing market, especially in major cities, drives up rent and property prices, adding to the financial considerations of living in this prosperous nation.

Switzerland income tax

In Switzerland, income taxation operates on three levels: federal, cantonal, and municipal. At the federal level, tax-resident individuals are subject to taxes on their worldwide income and wealth, while non-tax residents are taxed only on Swiss sources of income and wealth. Each canton has its own tax laws and rates, with most employing progressive income tax rates, although some have adopted flat-rate taxation.

Additionally, municipalities can set their own communal tax rates within certain parameters established by the cantonal tax law. For example, in Zurich, single taxpayers with taxable income above CHF 254,900 are subject to an overall tax rate of 13%.

Switzerland expected salary

According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, the average gross salary in Switzerland is approximately CHF 6,500 per month, or CHF 79,980 per year.

This reflects Switzerland’s overall high standard of living and robust economy. Salaries in Switzerland are generally competitive, making it an attractive destination for professionals seeking lucrative employment opportunities.

 

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