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The rules and conditions governing migration are complex and the criteria and procedures for gaining a permit depend on numerous factors, particularly your nationality, current place of residence, reason for wanting to come to Switzerland and length of stay. These factors also determine the type of permit granted:


  • B permit = Renewable residence permit (initial validity of between one and five years, renewable repeatedly if the conditions are still met)
  • C permit = Settlement permit (permanent in most cases)
  • G permit = Cross-border commuter permit (valid for up to five years)
  • L permit = Short-term residence permit (valid for less than a year, corresponding to the length of contract)
  • “Legitimation card” = not a true permit, but the equivalent granted to diplomats and staff of international organisations and their unemployed family members
  • Ci permit = Work permit granted to family members of diplomats and staff of international organisations

Non-EU/EFTA citizens

If you are a citizen of a non-EU/EFTA country (also referred to as “third-country nationals”), you will find on these pages details of the criteria to fulfil depending on your reason for applying:


You can also find information about how to apply for settled status or for Swiss citizenship.

Refugees and asylum seekers

We are proud to offer our services completely free of charge to all refugees and people seeking asylum in Switzerland! Contact us to arrange a meeting with one of our advisers and we will do everything we can to help you.

EU/EFTA citizens

Citizens of EU/EFTA countries benefit from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), so the process is much simpler and the eligibility criteria less restrictive. Those rules are not covered in depth here, but are summarized in English on the SEM’s website, and the full agreement is available in all EU languages. Note that citizens of the UK are no longer covered by the AFMP but may benefit from some acquired rights.


Non-EU/EFTA citizens can also invoke free-movement rules in certain cases if they are long-term residents of an EU/EFTA country. These cases are described on the relevant pages.