Third-Country Nationals

Citizens of non-EU/EFTA countries will only be granted access to the Swiss labour market under very specific conditions. In particular, they must have good qualifications.

Table of contents

Commencement of work Switzerland

Employment relationships between foreign employees and employers based in Switzerland are referred to as commencements of work.

Third-country nationals seeking to be admitted to work in Switzerland require a permit from the first day. The permit application may only be made by the employer. Furthermore, the longer the envisaged gainful work stay, the higher the expectation to reach a sustainable level of integration in the Swiss labour market.

In addition, the following conditions must be cumulatively satisfied:

Advantages:

  • Admission must correspond to the general interest of the Swiss economy.
  • Permission will only be granted to managers, specialists or other qualified workers.
  • Precedence of domestic employees must be ensured. Domestic employees include Swiss nationals, citizens of EU27/EFTA member states, persons with a permanent residence permit as well as persons with a residence permit authorising them to work and temporarily admitted refugees.
  • Employers must adhere to the salary and working conditions customary for the location, profession and sector.

Postings

Different from work commencements, posted employees remain subject to the employment contract with their employer in the country of origin. The employer is also responsible for submitting an application for a work permit. The work assignment in Switzerland is limited and, as a rule, project-bound.

The following conditions must be cumulatively satisfied:

Advantages:

  • Admission must correspond to the general interest of the Swiss economy.
  • Permission will only be granted to managers, specialists or other qualified workers.
  • Employers must adhere to the salary and working conditions customary for the location, profession and sector.

Note

Third-country nationals posted by a company based in an EU/EFTA country and who have been admitted to the regular labour market of an EU/EFTA member state for at least twelve months are subject to the rules for citizens of EU/EFTA member states.  

Self-employment

A self-employed activity is regarded as an activity carried out within the framework of an own, freely chosen organisation aimed at generating income, under own authority to issue directives and at own entrepreneurial risk

Third-country nationals may be self-employed in Switzerland under the following cumulative conditions:

Advantages:

  • The self-employment must be in keeping with the general interests of the Swiss economy.
  • The expected income from the envisaged self-employment must be sufficient to cover operational costs and living expenses.
  • The seed capital has to be sufficient. It is mandatory to submit a business plan or budgeted balance sheet. Any rental or loan agreements are also helpful.
  • On principle, third-country nationals may only be admitted to work if they are managers, specialists or other qualified workers.
     

Change of job

Foreign nationals do not always have the right to change jobs without a permit.

To provide information to you on this, please use the form below and send it to ab@vd.zh.ch. You will receive a written reply from us.  

Further information

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Contact

Amt für Wirtschaft und Arbeit – Abteilung Arbeitsbewilligungen

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