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An Overview of Swiss Residence Permit Regulations for EU/EFTA Nationals

Introduction

The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) between Switzerland and the European Union has been in force since 21st June 1999. This agreement simplifies living and working conditions for Swiss and EU/EFTA nationals. The procedure for applying for residence permits has also been simplified and the conditions to be fulfilled, standardised.

The following post provides an overview of the most important residence permits for EU/EFTA nationals.

The Various Residence Permits for EU/EFTA Nationals

Unemployed Individuals

  • No residence permit is required for stays of less than three months in duration.
  • A residence permit must be requested for stays of more than three months. The permit is granted if the person has health insurance coverage and sufficient financial means to cover his or her own living expenses.

Employed Individuals

  • No residence permit is required for employment contracts of less than three months in duration; however, an individual must register using the Federal Department of Justice and Police’s electronic registration procedure.
  • The short-term residence permit L is issued for temporary stays of less than one year and with a specific purpose of residence. NB: Upon request, it may also be granted to EU/EFTA nationals seeking employment in Switzerland.
  • The residence permit G is issued to cross-border commuters who are required, under the terms of the permit, to return to their main place of residence abroad at least once a week.
  • The residence permit B with a validity period of 5 years is granted if proof of permanent employment or employment for at least 365 days is provided.
  • The residence permit C is issued to permanent residents. This can be applied for after a period of 5 or 10 years in Switzerland. The right of residence is not subject to any time restrictions or conditions. The AFMP does not contain any provisions on settlement permits so the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act and settlement agreements between the individual countries are applicable.

Exceptions

Croatian Nationals

Croatian nationals will not have the right to full freedom of movement until at least 31st December 2021.

Brexit

The AFMP will no longer apply between the UK and Switzerland following the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU. It follows that on 19th December 2018, Switzerland signed an agreement with the UK that allows Swiss nationals to remain in the UK and British nationals to remain in Switzerland once the AFMP no longer applies. The current conditions of the AFMP are expected to remain in force until 31st December 2020; however, this date will only be confirmed once the EU and UK have finalized a treaty regulating the terms of the UK’s withdrawal.

Conditions for Families

According to the terms of the AFMP between Switzerland and the European Union, EU/EFTA nationals may extend their right to stay in Switzerland to spouses, children and spouse’s children as long as the children are under 21 years of age or receiving financial support. Furthermore, these terms are extended regardless of a family member’s nationality.

Responsible Authority

The responsibility for issuing all permits belongs to the cantonal migration and employment authorities.

Angela Ulrich is the Finance and HR Manager at Studhalter & Pfister Rechtsanwälte AG, au@stu-law.ch

For further information regarding our services: www.stu-law.ch

charlie.hartmann@livinginluzern.swiss

Charlie Hartmann is the managing director of the Living in Luzern organisation which focuses on helping international residents connect, grow and thrive in Switzerland.

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