Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Caterina Naegeli
Buergi Naegeli Rechtsanwaelte

Switzerland has a dual system for granting foreign nationals access to the Swiss labour market. Persons from the EU or EFTA member states, regardless of their qualifications, are granted easy access, employers who want to engage persons from third states have to face a few obstacles. Due to the number of enquiries received we want to share a short summary of the requirements with you.

The immigration of employees from countries outside the EG/EFTA depends on various conditions. When an inter-company or company-internal transfer is not possible, the employees have to apply for a normal work permit. The following information applies to all sectors whether for certain sectors the requirements are regulated in more detail.

Business visitors in Switzerland will receive that permit, if:

- this is of general economical interest
- and an employer applies for the employee

Furthermore the following conditions must be fulfilled:

- The federal council limits the number of permits with work purpose. As long as the contingent is not exhausted permits can be given
- The local salary and working conditions must be guaranteed
- It must be proved that neither Swiss citizen, nor persons already domiciled in Switzerland or a holder of a permit or a member of an EG/EFTA state could have been employed. To do so there must be a public offer for the job.
- Only managers, specialists, or other qualified persons can be admitted. The professional and social adaptability, language, and age have to allow for a lasting integration in the market and the social surroundings
- A suitable accommodation must be available.
- Also criteria for a good integration (age, language ability…) will be considered by the immigration office

To summarize: the most important thing would be to explain why the employees have special knowledge, languages which are absolutely necessary for the business connections or other requirements which cannot be fulfilled by any of the above mentioned persons. Normally it should be able to show that the prerequisites to get such a permit are given for people having an academic background or being specialists, but this depends very much on what exactly the employee in question will be doing and which qualifications the employee has.

Exceptions from the admittance requirements may be made in certain cases. Examples are:

- Cooperations agreements / projects
- Practical training and further education¨
- Transfer of cader or specialists
- Employment following conclusion of a person’s studies
- Special case of general interest