Residence & Family Reunification

Incoming foreign nationals who wish to stay in the Canton of Zurich for an extended timeperiod must apply for a residence permit. If you wish to extend such a permit or if you plan to apply for family reunification, you need to fulfil certain conditions.


If you wish to work in Switzerland or live here for more than three months, you must apply for a resident permit («Aufenthaltsgenehmigung»). These are issued by the Canton of Zurich Migration Office («Migrationsamt»). Permits are divided into short-term residence permits (up to one year), residence permits (temporary) and settlement permits (permanent). Depending on your nationality and the reason for your stay, you must meet different requirements to get a permit. EU/EFTA nationals may register directly at their place of residence, but third-country nationals (non-EU/EFTA) must have a work permit. You may apply for a work permit to the Office for Economy and Labour («Amt für Wirtschaft und Arbeit»).

Integration criteria and language skills

Switzerland has compiled a set of integration criteria, which take the following factors into account: respect for public safety, law and order, respect for the values of the Federal Constitution, participation in working life or efforts to acquire an education, and sufficient language skills.

If you wish to apply for or extend your residence or settlement permit, you must be able to prove a certain level of ability in the German language. You can do this by submitting an officially recognised language certificate to the Canton of Zurich Migration Office. Please contact the Migration Office in plenty of time to discuss any further details or check the Migration Office website.

Family reunification

It is generally possible for family members of persons already living here to move to Switzerland. This is called family reunification («Familiennachzug»). For which family members an application can be made depends on the nationality and residential status of the applicant. The Migration Office decides if the application is approved and provides information about the documents required and the exact procedure.

Family members of EU/EFTA nationals may, as a rule, join the person living in Switzerland irrespective of his/her type of permit. Non-EU/EFTA nationals (third-country nationals) who hold a permit as a foreign national may apply for family reunification in the Canton of Zurich Migration Office, provided all legal requirements are satisfied.

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