Free movement for the citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was gradually introduced through the implementation of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between the European Union (EU) and Switzerland and the changes made to the agreement for the creation of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) on 1 June 2002. With effect from 1 June 2007, free movement will be granted on a trial basis to citizens of the 15 old EU member states, of Malta and Cyprus as well as of EFTA states. Other regulations apply to citizens of the eight new EU countries (excluding Malta and Cyprus), of Romania and Bulgaria as well as third-party nationals.
Gainful employment for up to three months
With the implementation of Phase II of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, gainfully employed citizens of EU/EFTA countries are no longer required to apply for a residence permit for a work stay of up to three months. Service providers and employees of EU/EFTA countries who are sent on assignments may work in Switzerland without applying for a permit for up to a total of 90 days within a calendar year. Instead of applying for a permit, in both cases the individual is obliged to register in advance – at least one week before employment begins – with the cantonal Labour Office. Employees who are third-party nationals may only be sent on assignment to Switzerland if they have had a permanent residence permit in an EU/EFTA state for at least twelve months. In addition, they must apply for a visa for Switzerland. Employees who are sent on assignments must be granted working conditions and payment in compliance with the established customs of the host country.
Gainful employment for more than three months
The following types of permits are available for the employment of citizens of an EU/EFTA country lasting longer than three months:
a) EU/EFTA short stay permits (Permit L-EU; purple)
This permit is issued upon presentation of a work confirmation issued by the employer. This short stay permit is required for work stays of more than 90 days and up to a maximum of 364 days. This permit may be extended or renewed without leaving Switzerland. Geographical and professional mobility is ensured. The application must be submitted to the corresponding residential municipality in the Canton of Schwyz.
b) EU/EFTA residence permit (Permit B-EU; grey)
This permit is valid for five years, and is issued when a one-year or indefinite work contract is presented. Geographical and professional mobility is ensured. Applications for residence permits for employment purposes must be submitted to the corresponding residential municipality in the Canton of Schwyz. Since 1 June 2007 onwards, quotas have been be abolished on a twelve-month trial basis.
c) International commuter permit (Permit G-EU; brown)
With effect from 1 June 2007, the border zones will be abolished for citizens of the 15 old EU member states, of Malta and Cyprus as well as of EFTA states, that is to say, citizens of these countries will be able to work on a self-employed or employed basis as international commuters throughout Switzerland. For this purpose, an international commuter permit (G-EU/EFTA) must be obtained. The validity and duration of this permit depends upon the nature of the gainful employment in Switzerland. It will be continue to be necessary to register any moves to new positions of employment. In the case of international commuters in non-self-employed positions, the work permit must be obtained via the employer. International commuters may remain in Switzerland during the week. This must be reported to the municipality in which the international commuter is staying. The validity of permits to stay during the week is limited to one year. Self-employed international commuters must apply for a permit to the municipal administration of the town in which the enterprise is domiciled.
In order for citizens of the 15 old EU member states, or Malta and of Cyprus as well as of EFTA countries to take up self-employed work, proof of the self-employed activity must already be presented at the time of the application. A business plan must also be presented together with the application for a work and residence permit. Applications for residence permits for self-employed activities must be submitted, together with the business plan, to the corresponding residential municipality in the Canton of Schwyz.
Accompanying measures / Quotas
a) Customary geographical and industry related hiring conditions
Accompanying measures are applied to avoid wage and social dumping. The Cantons have created ommissions together with the social partners to examine the job market and take action if abuse is noticed. These commissions may demand the imposition of a minimum wage or may declare existing collective agreements as binding.
With effect from 1 June 2007, quotas were abolished for a twelve-month trial period. Should a high level of immigration from the 15 old EU member states, from Malta and Cyprus as well as from EFTA states be recorded during the period from 1 June 2007 to 31 May 2008 (over 10 % more than the average of the preceding three years), then the provisions of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (safety valve clause) would enable Switzerland to reintroduce quotas for two further years from 1 June 2008.
EU/EFTA citizens with a residence permit are entitled to family-reunion immigration, provided they are able to offer their family adequate housing. The spouse and children of EU/EFTA nationals who are issued a residence permit within in the framework of family-reunion immigration are allowed to work, irrespective of their citizenship.
Citizens of an EU/EFTA country and their families must carry a valid identity card or passport when entering Switzerland. If entry is for purposes of taking up residence in Switzerland, they must register within fourteen days with municipal authority of their place of residence.
Additional information is available on the Internet under www.sz.ch „Ausländerinnen, Ausländer“ (Aliens in the Canton of Schwyz) or on the website of the Federal Office for Migration (www.bfm.admin.ch). Application forms are available from the cantonal Labour Office, the Office for Migration and the Office for Economy.