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Resident & Work Permit for non-EU-Citizens

By Jacqueline Zesiger, govAccess GmbH, Zürich
Posted: 20th March 2014 08:54
Global Labor Market - Resident and Work Permit Switzerland
In the course of globalisation and technological progress, enterprises depend more than ever on foreign talents that are experienced and qualified.  However, work permits such professionals are not easy to be obtained for non-EU-citizens and certain criteria need to be fulfilled.
Work permits non-EU-Citizens residents are basically only issued for high qualified people with appropriate qualification and salary level.  The practice of local authorities became much stricter during the last few years and the applications undergo stringent examination.  Additionally, there are only limited numbers of so-called contingencies (applicable for permits with duration of over four months).  The current economic situation does not allow a less strict regulation. 
Applications for non-EU-citizens with a local work contract are subject to several restrictions.  For example, an employer has to prove that no suitable employee for the position could have been found in Switzerland.  In addition, the Swiss salary level which is common for the branch concerned is to be met.
Swiss Residence Permit for Citizens: Non-EU Member States
Every person who works more than eight days per year (EU and non-EU) needs to be registered for a Work Permit, together with a normal Residence Permit L or B or with a 120-Day-Permit (120 days per year, coming and going without official registration, valid also to enter Schengen Countries).  EU-Citizens and non-EU-Citizens living in the EU for longer than 12 months may register themselves with the Announcement System (Meldeverfahren).
Within 14 days after entering Switzerland with a normal L or B-Permit, the Non-EU citizen is obliged to visit the Residence Registration Office – or, in the City of Zurich, the district offices (Kreisbüro) – to notify the authorities of his place of residence.  The employer cannot carry out this registration on the employee’s behalf.  However, the employer is legally obliged to ensure that the non-EU-citizen is properly registered as a resident in Switzerland.
The Migration offices require a Criminal Record for new non-EU- Residents.  It is only applicable for B and L-Permits with Residency.  Following the latest announcement at the City Hall, they will now request the Criminal Record.  Therefore it is important to ask for this document before leaving the country.
Registration at the City Hall upon arrival in Switzerland
Due to those requirements, you are asked to proceed as follows:

 - Within 14 days after entering Switzerland visit your local Residence Registration Office to register your place of residence.  You will need to take along the following documents for all Family members: Your Passports, Authorisation/Entry-Visum, Cash, passport pictures, copy of Rental Contract.
Attestation of domicile / “Wohnsitzbestätigung"
When registering yourself at the Kreisbüro, please ask for an Attestation of domicile (Wohnsitzbestätigung).  Your employer will require a copy of this confirmation so ensure you pass this on to your Human Resources Manager within your first 14 working days.  You will need a copy of your Criminal Record to register.
Criminal Record
You may pick up your Criminal Record in your Home Country.

 - at the City Hall (Federal Criminal Record of the State)
 - at the Regional Police Service (Criminal Information Request)
Biometric Data for B, L and C Permits (Ausländerausweis)
Since 24 January 2011 residents of states out of the territory of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), meaning non-EU Nationals, receive a new, biometric foreign national permit.  A picture of the face, two fingerprints and the signature will be saved on the chip of the permit.  This is processed by the Migration Office of the Canton.
Residents of states, which are not members of the European Union (EU) nor the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) nor persons from third part of states, who are able to refer to the freedom of movement, will get the biometric foreign national permit. 
The Non-EU citizen and all family members (regardless of age of the child) need to go to the immigration office of the responsible canton after they have registered at the Residence Registration Office.  Upon registration with the Residence Registration office (City Hall) you will obtain all necessary information to get the appointment at the Migration office of the Canton of Zurich, Berninastrasse 45, 8057 Zürich.  Also they provide all relevant information about the process.
Re-Entry Visa or Travelling Without “Ausländerausweis”
It may take up to two months to obtain the new “Residence permit/ID Card” (Ausländerausweis).  Meanwhile, if you have to travel outside Switzerland and your Ausländerausweis is not yet ready, we recommend following:
You may get a multiple Re-Entry-Visa at the Migration Office.  As Citizen with need of normal Visa it is especially important to be able to re-enter Switzerland without problems (The given Entry Visa is only a One-Entry-Visa for Registering in Switzerland).
Nevertheless it is always recommended to wait for the ‘Ausländerausweis’ or get hold of a proper Re-Entry Visa (valid for all Nationalities).
Change Job or Loosing Job
If you are holder of a valid residence permit ”B", you areallowed to change your job and work for any other Swiss company, providing no restriction apply on your permit.
If you hold a short-term residence permit “L”: The future employer needs to hand in an application for the new employment.  You are not allowed to just change your job. 
If you lose your job, you are allowed to search another job whilst your permit is still valid.  You are entitled to get unemployment benefits as long as you are in possession of a valid residence permit B and as long as the common regulations are complied with.  You have to register ASAP at the Unemployment Insurance (RAV).  To be entitled for unemployment money you need to have been employed for a minimum period of 12 months to fulfil the requirements.  Your local Unemployment Office (“RAV”) will be able to give you more information.
Repatriation – Going back to the Home-Country
Old Age Insurance (“AHV”)
You can ask for a reimbursement of paid contributions or wait until pension age (64/65) to get a pension from Switzerland, if you have paid social contributions for at least 12 months.  For obtaining the contributions please contact your HR – Department.  To obtain the pension later on, please contact the Swiss Consulate in the country you currently reside. 
Pension Fund (“BVG”)
If you go back to any other country outside the EU, you can ask in general that all savings are paid out to you.  You can also leave the money in Switzerland and once you retire you will be entitled to get a rent if this is in the regulations of your pension fund. 
SCHENGEN-Visa not needed with ‘Ausländerausweis’
Since 12 December 2008 you may travel to the Schengen Countries with your ‘Ausländerausweis’ as non-EU Citizen who needs normal Visa (e.g. India/China/South Africa).  You do not need a Visa for these countries anymore.  Since the law/regulations are changing fast, please make sure you have the updated list of Schengen-Countries.  Today all EU-Countries, except Great Britain, Ireland, Cypress, Romania and Bulgariaare part of the Schengen-Countries (Schengen: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic).
For update visit following pages: or
Jacqueline Zesiger, govAccess GmbH , Forchstrasse 239, 8032 Zürich
Tel.  044 388 71 77,
International Human Resources Management
Migration Services global / Expatriation Management – Work Permits

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