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Basics Working in Switzerland

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Obtaining a permit to work in Switzerland depends on many factors, including where you are from, the skills you have and quotas. 

Part time jobs

International students enrolled at a Swiss university are allowed to work for 15 hours a week during the semester. Full time work is allowed during the academic holiday. However, non-EU students are only given authorisation to work six months after their arrival. Exceptions are made for student assistants employed in their field of research within their own departments. 

In all other cases the employer will have to apply for a work permit on the student’s behalf at the cantonal office for economy and labour. For part-time job vacancies on campus, check the relevant university job portalsexternal link

Working after studies

Workers from so-called third states - nationals from neither EU/EFTA member states nor Switzerland - must hold a work permit. Regulations on how to get one are considerably tighter than for most Europeans and are often directly tied to employment. Getting a job offer is just one step of many towards getting a permit.

A third state national can take a job in Switzerland only if a person cannot be hired from within the Swiss labour market or an EU/EFTA state. Employers must show that they made “intensive efforts” to find a Swiss, EU/EFTA citizen or any foreign national already in Switzerland with a permit to work. Moreover, employers must show why those with priority who applied were not suitable for the job.

Those with the best chances of being granted a permit include managers, specialists and other highly qualified people, meaning those with university degrees and professional experience. Applicants may also be required to know one of the official languages (German, French or Italian).

Joint ventures, temporary teaching positions, managerial or specialist transfers, highly qualified scientists, or certain jobs involving art and culture, among others, can also obtain work permits under special circumstances.

There is no time limit on how long the procedure can take but, generally speaking, straightforward cases with proper documentation and little need for following up (such as transferring of a top manager) can take as little as three weeks. Other cases can last several months.

For more information on how the procedure works, please visit the State Secretariat for Migration’s websiteexternal link.

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