Foreign citizens who want to move to Switzerland have the possibility of applying for a temporary residence permit and then convert them into permanent residence permits. The difference between Switzerland and other European countries is that Switzerland is not an EU member state, therefore the requirements to move here and obtain permanent residence apply to EU and non-EU citizens. If you want to apply for a Swiss residence permit, you can rely on our lawyers.
Luckily, Switzerland offers a wide range of visas under which foreign citizens can relocate, live and work here with great chances of obtaining not only residency in Switzerland but also citizenship.
Below, our immigration lawyer in Switzerland presents the main routes to permanent residency for EU and non-EU citizens. You can rely on us for assistance in obtaining a residence permit in Switzerland. If you need immigration assistance in another country, such as Romania, we recommend our partners – ImmigrationRomania.Lawyer.
Table of Contents
Types of visas available for foreign citizens in Switzerland in 2023
The authorities do not make a great difference between the citizens of EU and non-EU countries who want to immigrate here and apply for Switzerland permanent residence after the appropriate period of time. Moreover, immigration to Switzerland for non-EU citizens is supported through a higher number of temporary residence permits.
Here are the main types of residence permits available for both EU and non-EU citizens:
- the L permit which can be obtained by both EU and non-EU citizens for limited periods of time;
- the B permit which also applies to both categories of applicants which has an extended period of stay;
- the C permit which is the residence permit that enabled EU and non-EU citizens to settle in Switzerland;
- the G permit which can be obtained by those who commute for work from another country to Switzerland.
If you want to apply for a permit C in Switzerland and its requirements, do not hesitate to ask for details from our immigration lawyer.
|Entry visa requirement (YES/NO)|
YES, for non-EU citizens
Types of visas for permanent residency
|L permits, B permits for temporary residence|
Permanent residency by employment availability (YES/NO)
|YES, provided that a job is secured prior to entering the country|
|Permanent residence through temporary relocation requirements||YES, by obtaining a B permit that can be renewed|
|Temporary residence permit validity||1 year for first-time applicants, 5 years for those who have renewed it once|
|Direct permanent residency possibility (YES/NO)|
|Living requirements to obtain permanent residence|
12 years for EU citizens, 15 years for non-EU citizens
|Permanent residency by investment option (YES/NO)||YES, permanent residence can be obtained after 5 years|
|Timeframe to obtain permanent residence (approx.)||2 – 4 months|
|Relocation with family members possibility (YES/NO)||NO, each family member must apply separately|
|Possibility to sponsor family members for immigration (YES/NO)||YES, permanent residents can sponsor spouses |
or other relatives
|Citizenship requirements through permanent residency||12 or 15 years depending on the country of origin of the applicant|
|Advantages of obtaining a permanent residency||Access to a competitive labor market, possibility to start a business, high living standards, possibility to acquire a property|
|Support in obtaining permanent residency (YES/NO)||YES|
|Other immigration services||Assistance in applying for all types of visas, support in renewing residence permits, guidance on obtaining citizenship|
In the case of non-EU citizens, it is important to first secure a job in a European country in order to obtain a G permit, however, this type of residence visa is usually requested by citizens living in European countries bordering Switzerland and commuting on a weekly basis.
Our immigration lawyer can offer detailed information on the requirements to meet in order to obtain temporary then a residence permit in Switzerland.
Overview of the most important ways to immigrate to Switzerland
As people who decide to relocate to Switzerland know, the country has one specific particularity: it requires all persons, no matter their country of origin, to apply for B or C permits in Switzerland. This happens because it is not an EU members state, alongside the effort of relying on a competitive local labor force made of specialists.
Switzerland is known for the quality and precision of goods like watches and other luxury goods, and this also applies to the quality of people the government decides to let in. So, here are the most important types of residence permits available for foreign citizens:
- the B permit for Switzerland is one of the easiest to obtain, as it is granted no matter if the person who moved here is not required to have employment;
- the C permit for Switzerland is the equivalent of the permanent residence card in most countries around the world.
A key aspect to consider is that the requirements for a Swiss B permit are slightly different for EU and non-EU citizens. This is why it is recommended to obtain the necessary details about it before applying. With respect to the Swiss B permit, one is required to live here for a specific time to qualify for it.
What to consider before applying for a residence permit for Switzerland in 2023
Foreign citizens who want to migrate to Switzerland with the purpose of obtaining permanent residency in 2023 must know that the conditions for moving here are the same for EU and non-EU citizens when it comes to the types of permits they can obtain.
As a foreign citizen one can relocate to Switzerland under the following conditions:
- if he or she has a job offer from a Swiss company;
- if he or she wants to start a business in Switzerland;
- if he or she marries a Swiss citizen.
No matter the option, a visa for Switzerland must be obtained before entering the country. The procedure must begin in the country of residence of the applicant.
In order to be issued a residence permit in Switzerland, it is recommended to apply for a visa that enables a foreign citizen to stay in the country for a longer period of time.
If you plan to move to Switzerland in 2023 with the purpose of applying for permanent residency, you can rely on the services provided by our immigration law firm. Our local consultants are also at your service if you decide to apply for a permit C in Switzerland and the requirements you must meet in this sense.
Eligibility criteria for Switzerland permanent residence
Those who want to relocate and apply for Switzerland permanent residence must first be eligible for temporary residence visas. If the conditions of the temporary residence permits are respected, applicants become eligible for moving to Switzerland for permanent residence purposes.
The following conditions apply in order to obtain permanent residence in Switzerland:
- the number of years of living in Switzerland must correspond to the Swiss immigration regulations;
- the applicant has previously held an L or B temporary residence permit;
- the applicant must also have sufficient knowledge of the official language in the canton he/she lives in;
- proof of integration in the Swiss culture is also a must in order to permanently settling here;
- proof of employment and a clean criminal record are among the requirements for being eligible for permanent residence in Switzerland.
With respect to the language test, the applicant must take, our immigration lawyer in Switzerland will inform them about the official languages with respect to the canton he/she lives in. Switzerland has 4 official languages: German, Italian, French, and Romansh, however, the latter is seldom used. The applicant must have an A2 level of one of these languages. The Swiss residence permit can be obtained by any person who speaks any of these languages.
If you want to move to Switzerland and apply for permanent residence, we invite you to discuss your case with one of our lawyers who can guide you in accordance with the regulations applied to your situation. We can also help you apply for Switzerland citizenship.
The B permit for Switzerland
Moving to Switzerland as an EU/EEA citizen implies obtaining a residence permit first. The first type of document is the Swiss B permit that can be obtained by those who are employed by local companies, as well for those who do not come here based on employment.
For citizens of the EU and EFTA, the B permit for Switzerland has a validity of 5 years. If the foreign national has an employment contract with a minimum term of twelve months or an unlimited term, it will be reissued. If the foreign national complies with the requirements, the residence visa will be extended for a further 5 years.
The main advantage of the Swiss residence permit of B category is its validity. The main requirement to obtain such a visa is to obtain a work contract with a minimum duration of 12 months or for an unlimited period.
This type of residence permit can be renewed for 5 years more if the holder meets the same requirements when first applying. The main condition to pay attention to is that the first time the B permit in Switzerland is renewed, the validity is one year if any unemployment periods are found in the applicant’s records.
The Swiss B permit can also be obtained by foreign citizens from the same countries if they come as unemployed persons, as long as they can prove they have sufficient means to support themselves for the duration of stay and health and accident insurance policies.
The Swiss residence permit in the B category is issued by the cantonal authority the applicant wants to move to. We remind people interested in immigrating to Switzerland that there are 26 cantons they can choose from. For this purpose, one can consider the following aspects:
- the taxation level imposed in the respective canton;
- rental prices;
- how easy it is to find a place to stay in one of the cities in that canton;
- salary levels.
With respect to the documents to be prepared when applying for a B permit in Switzerland, candidates should consider the following:
- specific forms issued by each cantonal authority;
- proof of health insurance;
- employment contract (where applicable);
- proof of residential address.
Other documents may be requested based on specific conditions.
It should be noted that B permits can also be obtained by non-EU/EEA citizens who must meet specific criteria that will enable them to move to Switzerland. The main difference between a Swiss residence permit in the B category issued for EU and non-EU citizens is that for third-country nationals, its validity is one year. However, it can be renewed. In certain cases, the job requirements may be limited to specific industries.
If you decide to move to this country and need guidance in applying for a Swiss B permit, our immigration specialists are at your disposal.
The C permit for Switzerland
Just like other countries around the world, Switzerland also enables those who have lived here sufficiently to apply for permanent residency. This is the equivalent of the Swiss C permit that can be obtained by both EU/EEA citizens and third-country persons.
The following conditions must be met when applying for a C permit for Switzerland:
- EU citizens are eligible for it after living in Switzerland for 5 years without interruptions;
- non-EU citizens must live here for 10 uninterrupted years to obtain it.
Exceptions apply to American and Canadian citizens who are also eligible for permanent residency after 5 years. In the case of other persons from other countries that are not part of the European Union or European Economic Area, Swiss permanent residence can be obtained if they are the spouses or minor children of C permit holders.
One of the ways of obtaining a Swiss C permit is family reunification.
Family reunification can be used to bring close relatives, such as the spouse and children to Switzerland by those who have settled here. Starting with 2019, a new legislative package included the provision for those who move here to reunite with their families to have a good knowledge of one of the official languages spoken here. These are French, German, English, or Romansh.
Should you want to apply for family reunification visas, do not hesitate to get in touch with our immigration lawyers in Switzerland.
The main advantages of obtaining a Swiss C permit
If the applicant has been living in Switzerland continuously for the past five years and has held a B or L permit for at least ten years and if there is no justification for rejecting the permission, then the candidate becomes suitable to apply for a C permit in Switzerland. Our specialists can help with this procedure.
Obtaining a Swiss C permit comes with several benefits, and among them, one of the most important is having all sector-related employment restrictions lifted for those who come here on labor contracts. Permanent residents can also move to other cantons of their choosing, as well as gain access to social and welfare benefits. Buying a house or apartment and the possibility to start one own’s business are also advantages that come with becoming a Swiss permanent resident.
No matter the way you decide to move to Switzerland, contact our immigration specialists for tailored support in applying for the desired type of visa.
Obtaining Swiss permanent residency through employment
One of the safest ways of moving to Switzerland with the purpose of obtaining permanent residence is through employment. The procedure implies finding employment with a local business (the job offer must be made by the possible employer) who will also start the immigration procedure.
The types of residence permits that can be obtained for employment purposes are the B and the L ones. The first one enables a foreign citizen to live and work in Switzerland for more than one year, while the second one has a validity of less than one year.
Moving to this country based on employment can lead to permanent residency in Switzerland in 5 years of interrupted stay in the country, and those who obtain work contracts with a limited duration need to have their employment offers renewed.
Sole traders can also apply for a residence permit in Switzerland if they want to set up small businesses in this country. For this purpose, they need to apply for a visa to move here in order to start operating. It should be noted that this option is usually available for professionals, such as accountants and dentists.
Obtaining Swiss permanent residency in 2023 can be supervised by our immigration lawyers who are at your service if you need guidance in preparing the necessary documents to be issued the residence card.
How to apply for permanent residence by investment in Switzerland in 2023
Switzerland is one of the most appealing investment destinations in the world for foreign businesspersons, many of them finding this country suitable for various operations.
Those who want to apply for Swiss citizenship by investment in 2023 can enter two categories:
- active persons.
In the case of the first category of applicants, the following requirements must be met:
- the applicant must be more than 55 years old;
- the applicant must have not worked in Switzerland prior to the application;
- the foreign citizen must also be a first-time applicant for this scheme;
- he or she must rent or buy a property in Switzerland;
- the annual income of a candidate must be at least 600,000 CHF.
The minimum annual income, however, can depend on canton to canton for those who want to obtain a Swiss residence permit.
Immigrating to Switzerland in 2023 under this program implies preparing various documents, case in which our lawyers are at your service for support, should you meet the requirements above.
In the case of the other category of applicants, the following requirements apply:
- the person enrolling in this scheme must be at least 18 years old and have no criminal record;
- he or she must have a business with a minimum turnover of 1 million CHF one is willing to redomicile here;
- the applicant must not be a former resident of Switzerland in the past 10 years.
If you need more information on the Swiss residence by investment program for 2023, you can obtain the details from our immigration law firm.
How long does it take to obtain permanent residence in Switzerland?
In order to determine after how long after moving to Switzerland permanent residence can be obtained, it is useful to know that:
- the L permit has a validity period of maximum of 12 months and can be renewed;
- the B permit has a validity period of 5 years which is sufficient for EU citizens to obtain permanent residence;
- for non-EU citizens, permanent residence is available after 10 years of living here;
- non-EU citizens can also apply for permanent residence after 5 years provided that certain requirements are met.
You have 14 days after entering the country to submit an application for a residence permit in Switzerland. One of the following permits will typically be given to immigrants who wish to relocate to Switzerland for the first time: the L permit or the B permit depending on how long your stay here will be. You can address our lawyers for details about them.
It is also good to note that each canton has its own regulations related to the issuance of C permits for permanent residency in Switzerland.
The documents related to moving to Switzerland and obtaining permanent residence are processed by the State Secretariat for Migration. You can also watch our video below:
Benefits as a permanent resident of Switzerland
Swiss permanent residents enjoy many benefits after obtaining this status. Access to the labor market is one of the most important, however, the permanent residency in Switzerland also comes with the right of starting one’s own business and living in any canton of his or her choosing.
Foreign citizens can buy real estate in Switzerland without any approvals or restrictions based on permanent residency. Also, after living here for 10 years, they become eligible for citizenship which has a great advantage: it ranks 6th in the world based on the benefits it offers, among which visa-free travel to 172 countries around the world.
Switzerland is also a member of the Schengen region, a group of 26 nations that have created visa-free travel and open borders. Schengen nationals can also move to Switzerland without a visa, but they must apply for a residence permit if their stay will be more than three months.
What are the main options for family reunification in Switzerland?
Family reunification is possible for those who have Swiss residence permit of the B type if the holder of the card decides to call his/her spouse and/or children to join them here. Dependents must first secure entry visas for Switzerland followed by residence passes.
They can qualify for the B permit for Switzerland after living here for 5 years, just like in the case of the permanent resident relatives. Among the documents they need to provide to enter Switzerland are a valid passport and the standard application form. Justificative papers such as marriage certificates (for spouses) and birth certificates (for children) must also be translated into German, French, Italian, or English and filed with the immigration authorities.
Another important thing to note is that starting with 2019, those coming to Switzerland through family reunion visas must also have a beginner-level knowledge of one of the official languages here in order to obtain a Swiss B permit. This requirement does not apply to family members coming to visit L permit holders.
When it comes to the C permit in Switzerland and its requirements for dependents, our lawyers are at your disposal for support. Family members of a person who is already established in Switzerland must live here for 10 years to qualify for permanent residency.
What is the easiest way to obtain citizenship in Switzerland?
Naturalization is one of the safest ways of becoming a Swiss citizen. First of all, one must have first obtained a C permit for Switzerland, meaning live here for 10 years. They can apply for citizenship.
Swiss citizenship can also be acquired through marriage after 5 years of living here, including in the first year prior to applying for a Swiss passport.
No matter if you want to relocate by applying for a Swiss B permit and then for a C permit, you can rely on the support of our experts in immigration. We can also help draft the paperwork for obtaining citizenship through naturalization, marriage, or investment.
If you are a foreign citizen from an EU or non-EU country and want to obtain Switzerland permanent residence, you can rely on our immigration lawyers for personalized advice and support, so do not hesitate to contact us. We can also guide you in applying for Switzerland citizenship.