Extensions and Variations
Short-term to long-term status
Can a short-term visa be converted to a longer-term permit in the country? If yes, what is the procedure?
The work and residence permit application (for an L or B permit) can also be submitted if the employee is already physically present and legally working in Switzerland (e.g. based on an online notification or a 120-day work permit). Depending on the employee’s nationality, it will be necessary for the applicant to collect a new entry visa (to take up residence in Switzerland) outside of Switzerland prior to staying in Switzerland on the basis of their new Swiss Permit L or B.
It is crucial that, for example, tourist or business stays cannot be extended beyond the permissible stay and do not give the right to settle in Switzerland.
A pending application for conversion into a residence and work permit does not entitle you to stay in Switzerland. Rather, the person must leave Switzerland after the permitted business or tourist visa has expired and wait for a decision on the permit application outside of Switzerland. In addition, some nationals are required to obtain an entry visa at the end of the Swiss permitting process and before they can reside and work in Switzerland.
Long term extension
Can a residence permit be extended?
L and B permits can be extended. In addition, L permits can be converted into B permits. After a period of 10 years (five years in some cases), B permits can be converted into C permits, which confer permanent residency (however, German, French or Italian language requirements apply). Even B permits, even if they have not been converted into a C permit, can theoretically be extended indefinitely, provided the basis for the original granting of the permit remains unchanged.
In the case of postings, depending on the Swiss canton, postings that last longer than five years must be thoroughly justified in order for the permit to be renewed (since postings are generally to be understood as temporary).
exit and re-entry
What are the rules and implications of exit and re-entry for work permits?
Employees with a valid Swiss permit L or B can leave and re-enter Switzerland on the basis of these permits.
Permanent Residence and Citizenship
How can immigrants qualify for permanent residency or citizenship?
As a rule, a settlement permit (permit C) can be issued if the applicant meets the following criteria:
- a stay in Switzerland of at least 10 years with a short-term residence permit (permit L) or residence permit (permit B) and uninterrupted possession of a residence permit for the last five years;
- no grounds for revocation according to Art. 62 and 63 of the Aliens Act (penal, debt and social assistance); and
- Compliance with the integration criteria.
In the case of successful integration or if there are important reasons, the C permit can be applied for after five years of uninterrupted residence in Switzerland.
Compliance with the integration criteria generally means that the applicant:
- is not a criminal and follows official orders;
- has not received any social assistance in the last three years before submitting the application;
- meet its financial obligations;
- is employed at the time of application; and
- masters languages at a certain level (written and spoken). (Citizens of countries with which Switzerland has a settlement agreement do not have to prove any language skills.)
Swiss citizenship can be applied for after 10 years of residence in Switzerland, three of which in the five years before the application was submitted with a permanent residence permit (permit C).
end of employment
Does the immigration permit have to be revoked at the end of employment in your jurisdiction?
An employee who moves back to his home country (or leaves Switzerland permanently) must deregister at his Swiss place of residence. With the deregistration, the work and residence permit expires.
In most situations (especially for nationals of non-EU/EFTA countries), the work permit (L and B permit) is linked to a specific employer, a specific activity and position. A change therefore usually implies the requirement for a new work permit. Failure to obtain such a permit may result in the Swiss permit being withdrawn.
Promotion to a new position may result in having to apply for a re-permit (in some cases including a labor market test); However, this must always be assessed on a case-by-case basis and taking into account the individual circumstances of each case, such as the field and Swiss canton.
Are there any special restrictions for holders of a work permit?
Typically, the Swiss L and B permits are linked to a specific employer, a specific position and a specific purpose of residence. Therefore, in the case of an employee with a work permit, enrollment at a university may require additional approval from the authority or even a change in approval.
If the employee wants to change employers or change their position in the company (change of sides), a new or amended work permit is usually required. Salary is primarily a relevant factor when issuing a work permit. From a Swiss immigration point of view, therefore, only a wage increase is justifiable.
If a B permit is not tied to a specific employer or position, the employee is free to change positions or employers.