This guide presents Switzerland's several work permit categories for foreign workers, including the G permit for cross-border workers.
One of the first questions that comes up when thinking about working in Switzerland is what are the legal measures to follow when you want to work and earn a salary in Switzerland? If you are not Swiss and wish to work as an employee or as a self-employee in Geneva, you need a working permit from the Cantonal Office for Population and Migration (OCPM) of the canton in which you wish to work.
Since Switzerland has limited its quotas for foreign workers, everyone will need a legal authorization to work in Switzerland. For cross-border workers, a specific work permit has been made available for people wishing to work in Switzerland while living abroad. This guide will help you find the right work permit for you and the conditions under which you can access it.
There are several types of work permit in Switzerland and the conditions of acquisition vary according to the person and the case. To obtain a work permit in Switzerland, citizens of the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (EU countries but also Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) are subject to different conditions from those applicable to third-country nationals (non-EU/EFTA citizens). These nationals are subject to other conditions that we will not be discussed in this article.
It is an initial or temporary residence permit valid for one year but can be extended each year, as long as there is no reason not to re-issue it, for example as a social assistance recipient. These permits are issued on a quota basis and are linked to the same employer. Permits often specify that you must live in the canton that issued the permit and that you cannot leave that canton. With this permit, you are allowed not only to stay in Switzerland but also to find a job.
It is a short-term residence permit that allows you to stay in Switzerland for up to one year. This permit is linked to the conditions of the employment contract and can be extended in exceptional cases for an additional year, but not more if you continue to work for the same employer.
It is a resident permit for those who have lived in Switzerland for ten consecutive years. With this permit, you are allowed not only to stay in Switzerland but also to find a job.
it is a cross-border authorisation for workers from the EU, more often France, Germany, and Italy. It is valid for five years, subject to the existence of an employment contract of indefinite duration or more than one year. If the employment contract has been concluded for a period of less than one year and more than three months, the validity period of the border permit shall correspond to the employment contract. Working in Switzerland for a maximum duration of three months per calendar year are not subject to authorisation but to the "announcement procedure".
Conditions of validity: if you are a national of an EU/EFTA Member State and wish to work in Geneva as a border worker, you must meet the following conditions:
Be careful and do not risk working without a permit! As a cross-border commuter, you must always have a work permit before you can start working in Switzerland if you do not want to risk a ban on entering Switzerland for up to 3 years.
Applying for a G permit: when applying for a G permit, you must apply to the foreign services of the canton in which you wish to work. If you work in the canton of Geneva or Vaud, you will find more information about the documents to be provided here for Geneva and here for Vaud.
Only persons with employment contracts of less than 90 days can work in Switzerland without a permit, but a declaration on the website of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) made by the employer is sufficient. This contract is only valid once a year and per person.
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