Direct democracy Switzerland: How To
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Permits and visas

Students wishing to study in Switzerland must obtain the proper permits from the authorities to stay in the country. Here's how the process works.

Student visas are issued much like permits for foreign workers, with students from European countries enjoying more relaxed procedures than those from third states.

EU/EFTA nationals

Within 14 days of arriving in Switzerland EU/EFTA nationals must register with local authorities in the town where they will live to apply for a residence permit.

Applicants must prove they have health insurance and enough funds to cover living costs. They must prove they have come to Switzerland to study full time and that they are properly enrolled at a university or a recognised college.

A residence permit will usually be issued for the duration of the programme but may need to be renewed each year until the completion of the studies, depending on the student's situation.

Students can hold jobs, but for no more than 15 hours a week. Otherwise they are considered employed and must apply for a work permit.

A spouse and dependent children may join the student in Switzerland. Family members may also work. However, the student must show that he or she has enough resources to support any family members, including adequate living space.

Third-state applicants

Students from non-EU/EFTA member states must apply for a visa at the Swiss embassy or consulate in their home country. Please visit the foreign ministry’s website to find Swiss missions around the world.

The application must include a certificate from the school or institution to be attended, proof of payment of school fees and means of support during studies, a written commitment that the student will leave Switzerland upon completion of the programme, as well as a CV. Swiss authorities may also organise a language test to make sure the student is able to follow lessons.

The cantons are responsible for issuing the permits. For detailed information on the application procedure (where to apply, which form to fill in, how long it takes etc.), please contact the relevant cantonal migration office

Here are further details on immigration issues and visas for those wanting to study in Switzerland.


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