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WORKING IN SWITZERLAND

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Switzerland has made reciprocal agreements regarding working holiday visas with several countries. Here's what you need to know.

Which foreign countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa arrangements with? Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
Which foreign countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa arrangements with? Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Over the past few decades, countries around the globe have rolled out ‘working holiday visa’ agreements.

These visa schemes, largely targeted at young people, allow people to work and live in a particular country, usually for a set period of time and pursuant to certain conditions.

In recent years, Switzerland has expanded its own form of a ‘working holiday visa’, although there are some important differences to be aware of.

Unlike some of the better known schemes like those in place in Australia, applicants are discouraged from moving around and are generally required to stay with the one employer for the duration.

The goal of the visa scheme is to allow applicants to “expand their occupational and linguistic skills in Switzerland”.

The visa scheme runs for 18 months and cannot be extended.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

The agreements are made between countries, meaning your fate will depend on whether your government has at some point struck a deal with Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between permanent residence and Swiss citizenship?

If you are from the European Union or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), then you will be able to live and work in Switzerland as is – and will not need to go through this process.

If you come from outside the EU, you will only be able to apply for this visa if you are a citizen of the following countries:

Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States.

What does ‘reciprocal’ mean in this context? 

Where these agreements have been struck, they have entitled citizens of both countries to certain rights and permissions in the other country. 

However, while these arrangements might be reciprocal, they are not identical. 

For instance, while citizens of Australia can enter Switzerland and work, the rules for Swiss citizens in Australia are significantly different. 

Therefore, if considering each program, be sure to study all of the relevant details as these will change from country to country and from agreement to agreement. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Switzerland

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WORKING IN SWITZERLAND

What happens to your Swiss work permit if you lose your job?

If you are a foreign national, your ability to work in Switzerland is often tied to your permit. But would you be allowed to remain in the country if you become unemployed?

What happens to your Swiss work permit if you lose your job?

Losing a job is a huge inconvenience to any employee, whether Swiss or not, but it is especially disturbing to foreign nationals.

Whether or not you can remain in Switzerland under such circumstances — and for how long — depends largely on your citizenship and the kind of permit you hold.

As in all other matters relating to employment and residence, EU / EFTA nationals are in a better position than their counterparts from third nations.

The kind of permit you carry is also important: for instance, a C permit is much more valuable in this situation than, say a L permit, which is issued for a limited period of time, usually less than a year.

The most important factor, however, is what kind of passport you hold.

READ MORE: Nine things you need to know about work permits in Switzerland

If you are a national of an EU / EEFTA state, “you may stay in Switzerland for at least six months to seek new employment,” according to State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

However, you will have to register with your cantonal migration authorities as a job seeker / unemployed person. 

If you don’t find a new job within that time, you may have to leave the country, but can apply for a new permit if you get another employer.

By the way, you can continue to receive Swiss unemployment benefits for up to three months after leaving the country — as long as you are a citizen of an EU or EFTA country and you move to an EU / EFTA member state.

What if you are a citizen of a third country?

You will face more restrictions than people from the EU / EFTA states.

That’s because your work permit is tied to your job, so becoming unemployed would automatically mean losing your permit as well.

However, in some cases, you may not have to leave the country immediately: you can stay in Switzerland, and look for another job, for 30 days from the date the cantonal authorities are notified of your dismissal.

Thirty days is a period that any foreigner, regardless of nationality, can legally remain in Switzerland.

However, given that work permits for third-country nationals are subject to strict criteria and quota system, finding an employer willing to hire you and apply for a work permit on your behalf will likely be problematic — unless you have some specific skills that are in high demand and that can’t be found among the Swiss or EU / EFTA workforce.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Switzerland’s planned work quotas for third-country nationals

Is there a (legal) way to remain in Switzerland after losing one’s job?

Actually yes. You can live in Switzerland without working. but the conditions are strict and not easy for just anyone to fulfil.

“To take up residence in Switzerland without pursuing a gainful activity, people such as pensioners, students, or those of private means need to register with the local authorities of the place they reside and apply for a residence permit for non-working persons,” SEM explains.

However, this type of residence permit “will be granted if you can prove that you possess sufficient financial means for you and your family members not to have to rely on Swiss social security benefits,” SEM said.

“Financial means are defined as being sufficient if Swiss nationals in the same situation are not entitled to claim benefits.”

In other words, it helps if you are independently rich.
 
READ MORE: Golden visas: Everything you need to know about ‘buying’ Swiss residency 

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