A quick introduction to permit types in Switzerland
There are currently three main types of permit available to EU/EFTA nationals in Switzerland.
Permit B – A long-term residence permit.
Permis L – A short-term residence permit.
Permit C – A settlement permit.
Permis G – A work permit for cross-border commuters.
Permits C, B and L are issued to European residents living and/or working in Switzerland. A B permit is often a foreigner’s gateway to Switzerland. For Europeans, it is awarded for a period of five years.
The L permit is less frequently requested, as it is issued for a pre-determined period of up to 12 months.
Permit G is often given to people who live in France and work in Switzerland. It is also valid for 5 years.
Permits B, L and G are most often granted following the hiring of an employee of foreign nationality. It is then up to the employer to apply to the OCPM for a B permit. Licensing is not automatic, and depends on a number of factors. The applicant’s income must be sufficient to enable him or her to live adequately, and he or she must have a residential address in Switzerland.
The B permit can also be granted through family reunification. That is, when an employee holding a B permit moves to Switzerland with his or her family from abroad. In this case, the OCPM carries out a study of the financial and social aspects.
For example, let’s take the fictitious example of Mr. Dupont, who works as a 50% waiter and earns a salary of 2,000 francs. per month.
This income is very low compared to the Swiss average, but Mr. Dupont’s application for an individual B permit may be accepted because this income may be sufficient for him. However, if he wants to bring his family to live with him in Switzerland, the application will be difficult to accept, as the OCPM will calculate the minimum subsistence for his family and his income will not be sufficient.
In this case, Mr. Dupont has to find a better-paid job, or he can apply for a non-working permit for his family. Often, this request is made via a financial guarantor who has good financial means and stands surety for the applicant in Switzerland.
In addition to a study of the financial situation of applicants and their guarantors, in these cases the OCPM also examines the number of rooms in a dwelling.