Employment in Switzerland: requirements and prospects for foreigners



Employment in Switzerland: requirements and prospects for foreigners

Switzerland is one of the most attractive countries for employment. However, foreigners who want to get a job and move must apply for an entry visa first. The application must be submitted by the employer. 
How to move to Switzerland for employment, what are the requirements, and what documents are required - read more in the article.

What you need to do to come to the country and get a job 

Switzerland is famous for its strong economy and boasts a highly skilled workforce. However, the government has in recent years reduced the number of work visas to Switzerland issued to non-EU and European Free Trade Association members to control the situation. 
The procedure for obtaining a work visa in Switzerland is complicated and has many requirements. For example, if a foreigner is going to find a job, it is also necessary to have a residence permit. 
In general, to get a work visa, you first need to find a job. You can use portals with vacancies. For example: 

• The local

• Linkedin

• Total Jobs etc.
After a job in Switzerland is found, the employer applies to an immigration authority in the local Swiss canton to obtain a work permit. It gives you the right to live and work in Switzerland. The application is then sent for approval to the State Secretariat for Migration
You can apply for a visa through the Swiss Embassy or Consulate in your country as soon as you find a job. However, in this case, it is already necessary to have a work permit. 
If the application for a work permit is approved, the cantonal migration authority will contact the embassy/consulate for a visa. With a permit and visa, you can go to work in Switzerland.

What are the conditions?  

To qualify for a visa and find a job, you need to meet one of the following requirements:
have a job offer in the country;
be a manager, specialist, or highly qualified specialist (i.e. have an advanced degree and several years of professional experience);
be a specialist unavailable in Switzerland or any other EU/EFTA country.
However, it is worth remembering that for many vacancies additional criteria may be required, such as:
knowledge of the language;
the ability to integrate into Swiss society;
lack of criminal record;
sufficient financial capacity to support themselves, etc.
In addition, foreign citizens who have started work must immediately (no later than 14 days after arrival) notify the Cantonal Immigration Office about arrival to the country.

Types of work permits in Switzerland

Foreign workers in Switzerland who need a work visa are issued one of two types of permits:
L permit is a short-term residence permit with which you can stay in Switzerland for up to one year. It is linked to the conditions of the employment contract and in some cases can be extended for another year. 
B permit is a temporary residence permit that is valid for one year but can be extended annually if there are no grounds for its non-re-registration (for example, receiving social assistance). It is issued based on quotas and is tied to the same employer.
If a foreign worker has lived in Switzerland for ten years in a row (or five years, when it comes to U.S. and Canadian citizens), you can apply for a C permit that entitles you to settlement.

Required documents 

In addition to applying for a visa, you usually also need to provide the following documents:
photocopy of a passport or a valid identity document;
confirmation of a job offer (for example, a letter with a proposal, or a copy of an employment contract);
CV and copies of documents on education, and qualifications in German, French, Italian, or English (if necessary translated by an official translator).
Usually, the application is processed within about 8-10 weeks.
Below we provide useful resources for foreigners who are going to move to Switzerland for employment:
State Secretariat for Migration (SEM); 
Swiss Authorities Online; 
Link to the visa application form; 
The cantonal bodies of immigration and the labor market.


The tax system in Switzerland is different from many others in the world. The amount of taxes may depend on several factors: the canton where the person lives, family status, income, etc.   
For example, citizens of the Confederation and labor migrants who have residence permits must file a tax return every year. If foreign workers don’t have a permit but are employed, their employer collects monthly payroll tax.  Persons who are married to Swiss citizens are generally exempt from withheld taxes.

Working prospects

Competition in the labor market in Switzerland is quite tough and high. However, it is still possible to find a promising job in the country. 
An important role in the state economy is played by highly skilled and professional industries, including such major sectors as the chemical industry, banking, insurance, pharmaceuticals, watch manufacturing, and food retail.
Even though for the most part there are enough specialists in the country, in some areas, there is often a shortage of qualified personnel. For example, in the following areas: 
technical specialists in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
medicine and pharmaceuticals;
jurisprudence, law, etc. 
Switzerland is also attractive to foreigners because wages in the country are among the highest in the world. 
The average wage ranges from 6,500 Swiss francs and more. The amount depends on the region, place of work, qualifications, experience, skills, etc.  
There is no official minimum wage in the country. Typically, unskilled workers receive between 2,200 and 4,200 Swiss francs a month, and skilled workers receive about 2,800 to 5,300 Swiss francs.
In the country, you can open your own business, work as a freelancer or in seasonal work, as well as undergo an internship. 
Below we present helpful resources for finding a job or obtaining the necessary information:
Swiss Regional Employment Centers (RAV/ORP/URC) – information on jobs and vacancies in each of the local cantons.
EURES is a job search portal in the EU.