Swiss Permits

Applying for a work permit to hire skilled non-European staff is an important step for any international company based in Switzerland. The type of permit delivered is dependent on the length of the contract. A contract going over 365 days will result in a B permit while a contract under one year will result in the delivery of a short-term L permit, renewable once. Aspects such as cantonal quotas (number of permits available for non-EU workers), the qualifications and level of expertise of the worker, the size and economic weight of the company, the lack of qualified Swiss and European specialists required by the company and the tax and financial implications for the canton are taken in consideration.

Examination process

The work permit application process follows strict rules. Only the employer can submit the application on behalf of the non-European worker and the job must be advertised first on local and European job platforms. For the canton of Geneva, the OCPM first receives the application, sends it to the OCIRT for examination and then issues a positive or negative notice. If it is positive, the application is then examined by the SEM (Secrétariat d’Etat aux migrations) in Bern that takes the final decision. Bern will take in account aspects such available quotas for non-European work permits. Finally, the applicant has to obtain a visa through the Swiss consulate of his country of residence to be able to travel to Switzerland and have his/her permit issued. The visa is delivered once the SEM has approved the application and has sent electronically the authorization to the Swiss consulate. Once in Switzerland, the worker has 14 days to announce his arrival. Only after that, the applicant will be able to start working.

Documents required from employers

A contract stipulating the length of the work to be undertaken and signed by the two parties must be joined. Then, most importantly, the employer must be able to prove that he has first searched on the Swiss and European job market for a suitable candidate for a period of at least 30 days. Proofs of job advertisement posted on recruitment platforms as well as on the official site of the Office Cantonal de l’Emploi (OCE) must be joined to the application. The employer must also submit a letter of motivation, a description of the company and his employees work permit status and citizenship and justify why he is hiring this particular non-European worker. Finally, the worker’s CV and diplomas must also be joined demonstrating expertise and skills in a specific area justifying the fact that his profile is standing out and that the worker presence in Switzerland will contribute to the economic development of the company.

If the company has headquarters overseas and a branch in Switzerland, it could detach a non-EU worker if the person has worked at least 1 year for the company overseas, the process is then simplified. The detached worker, or posted worker, can work in Switzerland for a maximum of 3 years.

The application process can take three to four months before receiving a decision from the authorities.

Contact us if you need assistance with preparing and applying for a work permit for your future employee or create an account via our new app DeliverPermit.