Switzerland offers many possibilities for foreign citizens interested in moving here. No matter if they plan on immigrating to Switzerland for employment or business purposes, citizens from all over the world can find a suitable visa based on their reasons.
US citizens can move to Switzerland by meeting the requirements imposed under this country’s immigration laws and policies. Below, we explain the main types of visas in order to immigrate to Switzerland from US. We are a dedicated team of lawyers who can help US citizens immigrate and obtain a residence permit in Switzerland on a temporary or permanent basis.
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The main steps when moving to Switzerland from USA
No matter the country one decides to relocate to Switzerland from, the procedure is a little different compared to other European destinations, as it is not a member of the European Union. This is why, the steps to complete upon immigration from USA to Switzerland will imply:
- choosing and applying for the appropriate type of visa;
- waiting for its approval;
- obtaining the residence permit (usually, temporary residency is first obtained);
- applying for permanent residency in Switzerland.
Our immigration lawyers in Switzerland are at your service if you want to move here from the USA and need to get acquainted with the main relocation conditions.
|Visa requirements for US nationals|
No visa is required for short-term travel
|Special conditions applicable (YES/NO)|
|Both countries are part of the Schengen agreement|
|L permits for short-term stays, B permits for residence permit renewal, C permits for permanent relocation|
|Temporary residence requirements|
L and B permits are available when moving to Switzerland from USA temporarily
|Permanent residence requirements||C permit must be obtained after living in Switzerland sufficiently|
|Access to investor/citizenship by investment visa||NO, Switzerland does not have a dedicated investor visa scheme|
|Timeframe for obtaining a residence permit (approx.)|
Approx. 4 – 6 weeks
|Family reunification visa availability (YES/NO)|
YES, family reunification visas are available
|Investment visa requirements||Business creation and retirement are options for American citizens|
|Permanent residence timeframe||5 years of living in Switzerland|
|Citizenship requirements||10 years of living in Switzerland|
|Possibility to acquire real estate (YES/NO)||YES, provided that American citizens are residence permit holders|
|Switzerland-USA double tax treaty (YES/NO)||YES|
|Immigration services (YES/NO)||YES, we offer tailored support for persons interested in moving to Switzerland from the US|
|Post-immigration support (YES/NO)||YES, we can offer guidance on short-term and temporary residence permit renewal, support in applying for permanent residence and Swiss citizenship|
What to consider when relocating to Switzerland from USA
As mentioned earlier, Switzerland is not an EU member state, which is why it has different regulations that apply to those moving here. When it comes to non-EU and non-EEA citizens, however, the Swiss authorities allow for specific quotas of immigrants. Also, each country outside of these areas have specific conditions and in some cases agreements in terms of immigration.
When it comes to US citizens, Switzerland has several diplomatic missions in the USA which enables those who apply for Swiss visas to obtain easy access.
The procedure of immigrating to Switzerland from USA is the same as for non-EU/non-EEA nationals, however, considering Switzerland is in the Schengen area, several facilities, such as free movement between the two countries under certain conditions (such as short-term visits) is available. For long-term purposes, however, residence permits are required for US citizens in Switzerland and the other way around.
The most employed types of visas by US citizens moving to Switzerland are:
- employment-based residency permits;
- business visas;
- family reunification (for this purpose, the B residence permit is available).
Also, Switzerland is made of 26 cantons, so when moving here, a US citizens must know that he or she will be issued the residence permit by the municipal authorities in the canton he or she will live in.
There are no limitations on the number of EU/EFTA/Schengen nationals who can move to Switzerland each year and be granted a residence visa. However, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania, three more recent members of the EU, may be subject to some limitations. Different and stricter rules are in place for citizens of countries outside the EU.
Our immigration lawyers are at the service of all non-EU citizens interested in relocating to Switzerland with tailored services, as you can read on in the infographic below:
Visas for moving to Switzerland from the USA
US citizens traveling or moving to Switzerland from US for short periods of stay benefit from the facility of not being required to apply for a visa. All they need is their valid passports. The no visa requirement applies if the stay is no longer than 3 months. Any period exceeding 3 months falls under the incidence of one of the following visas:
- non-immigrant visas which are issued for temporary stays which exceed the 90 days period, among which study and work are often met;
- long-term visas for those who are interested in permanent residence in Switzerland.
Depending on the main reason the US citizen has, he or she can apply for any of these types of visas when immigrating to this country. Our immigration lawyer in Switzerland can help with the paperwork that needs to be prepared and filed before coming here. It is good to know that Switzerland has representations and consular offices in several US states, thus easing the visa application procedures.
There are numerous routes that lead to obtaining a residence permit for Switzerland, but some of them will be more difficult than others. You will be in a considerably better position than if you are a citizen of any other country, for instance, if you are a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) nation. Likewise, getting legal residence in Switzerland will be less difficult for you if you already have a job offer there.
If you have any questions about the residence permit or citizenship by investment in Switzerland, please ask us.
Residence permits when relocating to Switzerland from US
As mentioned above, if you want to immigrate to Switzerland from US you should apply for a temporary or long-term residence permit. There are several such types of visas and the main difference between them is related to renewability. The L and B permits are the two most important short-term residence permits, however, only the B visa is issued for one year and can be renewed.
The C permit is obtained based on a B permit and is known as the settlement residence visa as it allows US citizens to permanently move to Switzerland. Citizens of the United States benefit from similar rights as European citizens and must live in Switzerland for 5 continuous years in order to obtain permanent residency here. A less-known fact about the C permit for Switzerland is that it expires after 6 months spent outside of Switzerland, however, in specific circumstances, an authorization of absence can be filed to suspend a C permit for up to four years while residing outside of Switzerland. Contact our immigration agents for information about this aspect.
Even if there are other types of visas available for citizens coming outside the EU, including the US, the residence permits presented above are the most sought.
Those who want to immigrate to Switzerland can obtain guidance on the steps related to applying for all categories of visas. We can also advise on Switzerland citizenship.
Documents related to immigrating to Switzerland from the USA
There are various documents that need to be prepared and filed with the Swiss embassy or consulate when emigrating from the USA. The documents must be prepared in accordance with the immigration purpose and usually consist of:
- the application form (there are different forms depending on the requested visa);
- the valid passport and two recent passport-sized photographs of the applicant;
- health insurance is required no matter if the duration of the stay is short or long;
- proof of self-sustenance is also required for those coming for short stays in Switzerland;
- other documents based on the type of visa to obtain (job offer, proof of enrollment with a Swiss education facility, etc.).
It should be noted that US citizens can move to Switzerland for business and retirement reasons, provided that they meet the financial requirements to sustain themselves and their families. These two options are also suitable means to permanent residency or Switzerland citizenship for applicants and close family members in this country.
Our immigration lawyer in Switzerland can assist US citizens interested in relocating here throughout the entire visa application procedure.
The L residence permit for US citizens moving to Switzerland
The L residence permit, also known as the short-residence visa, has a validity of one year and can be renewed two times, thus having an entire validity of 3 years. This is a suitable option for temporary workers in Switzerland and can be employed for working in the company the person has obtained the visa for. In other words, a US citizen entering the country to work for a Swiss employer cannot change it without applying for a new permit.
This is one of the main reasons that choosing the appropriate type of residence permit from the first time is very important if you want to immigrate to Switzerland. At the same time, you can rely on our lawyers who can provide you the most important aspects of relocating here.
The Swiss B residence permit for immigration to Switzerland
The B residence permit is another option for first-time US migrants to Switzerland. It is issued for temporary stay with a validity of one year. However, this can be renewed for up to 10 years after which one can apply for permanent residence here.
This is one of the most suitable options for US citizens interested in long-term or even indefinite relocation to Switzerland, consider the many opportunities this country offers.
With the exception of nationals of EU/EFTA countries, the US, and Canada, who can apply after just five years, those who have had a B permit for Switzerland for 10 ten years are then eligible to apply for a C permit (permanent residency). Additionally, candidates seeking permanent residency must also comply with additional requirements that can be explained by our lawyers.
Residency by investment in Switzerland
As any exclusive destination preferred by high-net-worth individuals, Switzerland has its own investor visa scheme under which US citizens can also move here.
Moving to Switzerland from USA based on the investor visa implies starting a business or retiring here.
Those who choose the first option can register a company by meeting the following requirements:
- they must incorporate a legal entity as approved by the Swiss legislation (the private limited liability company is usually chosen);
- the applicant must have not lived in Switzerland in the last 10 years.
In order to create a Swiss limited liability company, a foreign citizen needs at least 20,000 CHF which represents the minimum share capital for such an entity.
Those who choose the second option – retirement – must be at least 55 at the time they apply for the visa and must be financially worthy of sustaining themselves. Bank statements will be required as proof in this sense.
Real estate purchase is also permitted under the Swiss investor visa, however, prior approval from the Land Register must be obtained first. You can also watch our video below:
What to do after moving to Switzerland
After moving to Switzerland from US, the successful candidate must register with the local Residents Registration Office within 14 days from the arrival date. Then, one should also register for health insurance and taxation and even open a bank account with a Swiss bank.
Speaking about taxation, it is important to note that foreign citizens must register with the Federal Tax Administration Office and must consider the following aspects:
- the taxation of individuals in Switzerland is based on progressive levies ranging from 0% to 8%;
- the lowest income for which the 0% personal income applies is 28,300 CHF per year;
- in cantons where the employment income exceeds 120,000 CHF the taxpayer must file a tax return;
- Swiss tax residents must file tax returns between the 15th and 31st of March depending on the canton they live in.
For assistance in order to immigrate to Switzerland from US, please contact our immigration lawyer.