Switzerland's immigration system encompasses mechanisms for temporary stays for business visitors, students, highly skilled workers and intracompany transfers, among others. It also provides means for permanent residence, usually after a qualifying period of temporary stay. Switzerland is a federal state divided into 26 cantons. Each canton is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal immigration law.
A Business (Entry) Visa is required for foreign nationals who will conduct approved business visitor activities for up to 90 days in a 180-day period (total stay limit permitted throughout the entire Schengen Area) or who will conduct work activities for up to eight cumulative days per calendar year.
Switzerland’s employment-based temporary residence in Switzerland features three main categories determined by nationality and payroll/contract location: (1) EU/European Economic Area (EEA) Local Hires (excluding Croatian nationals), which includes the L Permit, B Permit or G Permit for local employment of more than 3 months; (2) Non-EU/EEA Local Hires, which includes the L Permit, B Permit or, in some cases, the G Permit, for local employment of more than 3 months; and (3) Assignments, which includes the L Permit and B Permit for both EU/EEA and third-country nationals remaining on home payroll and contract.
Employers seeking to hire intracompany transferees, high-level executives/investors, and highly qualified persons for non-EU/EEA nationals under categories 2 and 3 must conduct a partial labor market test. For other categories of workers under categories 2 and 3, the employer must conduct a complete labor market test, which requires compliance with an annual quota for employment of more than four months.
Generally, permanent residence permits (C Permits) can be obtained after 10 years of residence in Switzerland (five years for EU/EEA nationals).
Note that Switzerland strictly enforces minimum salary requirements and, for intracompany transfers, the requirement that the foreign national has been employed with the corporate group for at least 12 months. The general work permit quotas in Switzerland are split between the cantons and the federal authority. Registered unmarried partners (same- or opposite-sex) qualify as dependents.
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