Feeling lost and confused ?Don't worry , you are probably not the only one to find the Swiss permit system mind-boggling. Switzerland has no less than eight different classes ofresidence permits according to whether you are, for example, a wealthy individual, the foreign employee of a company based in Switzerland, a cross-border worker, an asylum seeker, etc.
The reason is admittedly rather simple, the Swiss like to regulate, quantify and keep track of things. To complicate matters, over the years legal reforms have created new categorisations of immigrants, hence new definitions of status and… new types of permitsThe permit system can be traced back to the 1931 legislation but it has seen numerous modifications up until its last major overhaul in 2007.
In the early days, there were only three types of authorizations : A (for seasonal work),
B (renewable residence permit), C (settlement permit , i.e. permanent residence).
In 1992, (taking effect in 1995) the law was changed marking the end of the seasonal worker permit, the B and the C permits were maintained. The Ci permit is similar to the C permit (permanent residence) and is issued to spouses of employees of international organizations.Cross-border commuters working on Swiss soil are issued the G permit (Grenzgänger). The S permit (Schutzbedürgtinge) applies to people in need of protection. The L permit (Limitierter Aufenhalt) is a short-term residence permit issued for a limited period. Asylum seekers are issued either the F or N permit according to their status.
In summary :
B Permit : aresidence permit usually valid for one year and renewable periodically.
B permit holders are eligible for a C permit (see below).
C Permit : a permanent residence permit issued after 10 years of residence (5 years for Canadian, US, EU nationals) . A C permit may be issued following a 5-year uninterrupted stay when the foreigner has shown his or her capacity to integrate into the population .
Ci Permit: a work permit issued to the spouse of an employee of an international organisation as well as to their unmarried children under the age of 21 on the grounds of family reunification. The validity of the Ci permit is subject to the duration of the post of the member of the international organisation.
G Permit : a work permit giving a person living in a neighbouring country the right to work - but not to reside - in Switzerland (cross-border worker).
S Permit:a residence permit for persons requiring protection (issued collectively).
L Permit:a temporary residence permit for a stay of up to 12 months. It is linked to the employment it is granted for and may be subject to other conditions.
F Permit : a temporary permit issued individually and allowing asylum seekers to seek gainful employment as well as professional training. Validity up to 12 months.
N Permit: apermit giving asylum seekers access to the labor market - but not professional training- during the time their application is being processed and starting on the 4th monthfollowing their application .