The Swiss labor market remains strong and the Swiss economy continues to grow. As the economy continues to grow and the retirement rate increases, a significant labor gap is expected in the coming years, with forecasts estimating hundreds of thousands of job openings in the near future.
At the same time, Switzerland is the country with the highest skilled workforce in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. Switzerland’s world-class vocational education system and excellent in-company training, coupled with a high quality of life that attracts talent from around the world, make it one of the world’s most competitive labor markets.
Finding a job in Switzerland
International recruitment agencies like RM Group can help foreigners find a job in Switzerland that matches their skills and experience. With our local knowledge of the job market and industry experience, we or other recruitment agencies can also help you with your application, resume as well as your interview and provide tips on how to get the job.
In addition, we employ professionals to take care of work and residence permits and other formalities related to hiring foreign workers.
Residence permits for EU/EFTA citizens
Any person who is not a Swiss citizen and takes up a job in Switzerland requires a work permit. Thanks to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) signed between the European Union and Switzerland in June 1999, EU or EFTA citizens have the right to move and work freely in Switzerland without restrictions. Mutual recognition of professional qualifications has also been agreed.
In contrast, the Swiss government sets quotas for work permits for non-EU/EFTA citizens every year.
Nevertheless, EU/EFTA citizens must apply for a residence permit when taking up employment, even if they do not need a work visa in their home country or already have a job in Switzerland.
However, an EU/EFTA citizen can obtain a work and/or residence permit more easily than their non-EU/EFTA counterpart. Since there are no quota restrictions on how many EU/EFTA citizens can enter and work in Switzerland, it is easier to obtain a work and/or residence permit compared to a non-EU/EFTA citizen.
The type of residence permit an EU/EFTA citizen needs depends on the length of their stay or the duration of their employment contract in Switzerland.
EU/EFTA citizens initially have the possibility to come to Switzerland for up to 6 months and look for a job directly from there, even without already having an employment contract. No permit is required for the first 3 months. For the following 3 months, EU/EFTA citizens can apply for a short-term residence permit, provided they have the necessary financial means to live in Switzerland during this time.
Overview of work permits
An EU/EFTA citizen does not need a residence permit if employment in Switzerland lasts 3 months or less per calendar year. However, the employer must register any paid employment through the notification procedure for short-term residents in Switzerland at least 1 day before the start of work.
For employment lasting longer than 3 months, EU/EFTA citizens must apply for a residence permit in the Swiss municipality where they will be working.
Short-term residents – L EU/EFTA permit
For EU/EFTA citizens with an employment contract of 3 to 12 months: The L residence permit is valid for the same period as the duration of the employment contract. Can be renewed for a total of no more than 12 months.
Foreign residents – B EU/EFTA permit
For EU/EFTA citizens who have an employment contract of at least 12 months, the B residence permit is valid for five years and can be extended for another five years if the foreign person meets the requirements. However, the initial extension of the permit may be limited to one year if the holder has been necessarily unemployed for more than 12 consecutive months.
For foreign nationals who have settled in Switzerland, the EU/EFTA C residence permit is valid after five years of regular and uninterrupted residence in Switzerland. The earliest possible date from which the competent national authorities can issue a settlement permit is determined by the State Secretariat for Migration.
In particular, nationals of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, as well as EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) are granted a settlement permit after 5 years on the basis of settlement agreements or reciprocity agreements. The remaining EU member states are not covered by this provision.
For cross-border commuters who live in an EU/EFTA member state and work in Switzerland, the EU/EFTA G residence permit applies. As a rule, cross-border commuters must return to their main residence abroad every day or at least once a week. The G permit is valid for five years if the employment contract is either temporary and longer than one year or permanent. However, if the fixed-term employment contract is valid for less than one year but more than three months, the validity period of the cross-border commuter permit is identical to the duration of this employment contract.