How To Move To Switzerland Without a Job? 2023 Guide

a girl sipping a cup of coffee while holding her book.

Switzerland is one of the most popular destinations thanks to its well-established healthcare system, strong economy, multilingual population, excellent work opportunities, and amazing work opportunities. According to research, 120,000 people move to Switzerland yearly, and some do it without a job offer. 

The ease of the process of moving to Switzerland depends on your nationality. If you are an EU or EFTA citizen, you can move to Switzerland and seek a job. If you are a non-EU citizen, you must obtain a Swiss visa in your country before the move. In both cases, you must have sufficient financial resources to support yourself during your stay.

This guide looks into how you can move to Switzerland without a job; the possibility and difficulty of the process. We also explain how you can find a job and acquire a work visa if you need it.

Don’t miss our article about how to get a job in Switzerland without speaking German.

Moving to Switzerland without a job: Is it possible?

The main ways of moving to Switzerland without a job include getting a residence permit/visa based on one of the following:

  • Studying at a university or vocational school
  • Becoming a trainee in a local company
  • Volunteering
  • Cross-border commuting
  • Seeking for asylum
  • Joining a family or a spouse
  • Starting a business a becoming self-employed
  • Retiring

Moving to Switzerland without a job offer, work visa, or any visa, for this matter, is possible if you are from an EU or EFTA country.

However, if you want to stay in Switzerland, like in Zurich, for longer than three months, you have to apply for a Swiss residence permit, whether you are from the EU/EFTA or not.

The Swiss government allows EU/EFTA citizens to stay in the country for three months as they look for a job; this timeframe should be within a period of six months.

After that, you need to apply for a residence permit which allows you to stay and work for up to 5 years. This should be done in the canton you are planning or are currently living.

If you are a non-EU/EFTA national, you must have a work visa, even for short-term employment in Switzerland. To acquire a work visa, you need a job offer from a Swiss employer, regardless of the industry or level of expertise.

If you plan to move to Switzerland as a student, the rules are slightly different. As a student, you can work 15 hours per week while studying and unlimited hours during the semester break.

You can work using your Swiss family visa if you have a family member with a settlement permit or a Swiss resident.

Citizens of EU/EFTA countries

Nationals of EU countries can enter and stay in Switzerland without a job, but only for up to 90 days within a six-month period. Besides, they must have:

If you want to stay longer, you need to officially register yourself as a person without gainful employment at one of the immigration authorities in your canton.

After that, you can stay for at least five years. Yet, residence permit for students is valid only for the duration of their studies or one year with annual renewal until the end of the program.

Citizens of non-EU/EFTA countries

Non-EU/EFTA nationals can not just move to Switzerland without a job. They must apply for a visa before coming to Switzerland and a residence permit after entering the country.

Plus, you must have:

  • sufficient financial means to support yourself (usually at least 1,750 CHF per month)
  • health and accident insurance

Residence permit application in Switzerland

Unlike other European countries, you must have a residence permit to stay in the country as you work. According to Swiss law, your potential employer must apply for the permit on your behalf at the local cantonal employment services before applying for a work visa.

When applying for the permit, your employer must prove to the cantonal authorities that they have searched and have not found any EU/EFTA citizens that are fit for the job.

The officers then review the application and forward it to the Federal Office for Migration (FOM) for further consideration. When reviewing the application, the FOM considers your age, adaptability to Swiss culture and language skills.

Once the FOM approves your residence, the Swiss embassy in your country grants you a work permit. On arriving in Switzerland, you must register at the Residents’ Registry Office and get your residence permit, after which you can freely live and work in Switzerland.

Types of residence permits in Switzerland

There are three types of residence permits granted in Switzerland. They include:

Permit L 

This is a short-term residency permit that lasts a maximum of one year. When on this permit, you must work for a specific organization or employer; a change of either leads to losing your residence permit.

You can choose to extend this residence permit, but it doesn’t allow you to stay in the country for more than 24 months.

Permit B

Permit B is a temporary residence that lasts one year for non-EU citizens and five years for EU/EFTA nationals. It’s also can be renewed.

With this permit, non-EU citizens aren’t allowed to leave their canton and must work for the same employer throughout the year. If you stay in Switzerland for more than ten years while on this permit, you qualify to apply for a permanent residence permit.

Permit C

This is a permanent residence issued to individuals who have lived in Switzerland for more than ten years. On the other hand, EU/EFTA, US, and Canadian citizens are eligible for permanent residency after five years of living in the country.

With this permit, you can work for any employer, live anywhere within the country, change jobs as you wish, or start a business. 

That said, the main visas that allow moving to Switzerland without a job include the following:

  • Student visa
  • Trainee visa
  • Work visa
  • Volunteer visa
  • Cross-border commuting visa
  • Visa for asylum seekers
  • Family visa
  • Business visa
  • Retirement visa

How to apply for a work visa in Switzerland

A view of the buildings along-side the bay area

After getting a job offer and your employer has applied for your residence permit, you need to apply for a Swiss work visa. Before applying for the visa, you should have the following:

  • A university degree from a higher education institution
  • Several years of professional work experience
  • Sufficient financial resources to support yourself
  • A clean criminal record

There are numerous documents you ought to have during different stages of your visa application, such as:

  • Three filled-out visa application forms. You can download or pick them up from the Swiss embassy in your country.
  • Job contract
  • Certified degree or diploma certificates from a recognized higher institution
  • Marriage certificate (If married)
  • A valid passport that has at least two blank pages, valid for more than three months after your travel and issued within the last ten years
  • Detailed curriculum vitae
  • Three copies of the first four pages of your passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Four passport-size pictures
  • Lease agreement for your accommodation in Switzerland

Before submitting your documents, ensure that they meet the following requirements:

  • Translated in either English, German, Spanish, French, and Italian
  • Notarised by a recognized lawyer
  • Signed in ink or electronically
  • Triplicated
  • Dated within 30 days before application submission

Self-employment in Switzerland

As a national from the EU or EFTA, you can start a business in Switzerland after applying at the Cantonal Migration Office. Once the office has approved your application, you get a residence permit that lasts five years, and you can renew it once the period is over. 

If you are from non-EU/EFTA countries, you are only allowed to be self-employed when on Permit C or are married to a Swiss citizen. 

If you choose to be self-employed in Switzerland, you’ll need the following insurance for your business and employee:

  • Health insurance
  • Social insurance
  • Insurance to compensate for the loss of earnings
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Occupational and non-occupational accident insurance

Below is a diagram showing the self-employment rate for foreigners in Switzerland:

A diagram showing rate for foreigners in Switzerland.

Is it difficult to move to Switzerland? 

The difficulty of moving to Switzerland depends on your nationality; if you come from an EU/EFTA country, it’s easy. However, if from other countries, it might be a bit challenging due to the hefty documentation needed. 

As an EU or EFTA national, you can use your passport to travel into the country, register with the migration authorities and apply for residency.

To make this process shorter and easier, you need to have proof of sufficient funds to take care of yourself and any dependant through a passive income or self-employment.

If you are a non-EU/EFTA citizen, you must undergo a work visa application process whose time frame depends on the country of residence. To ensure that the process is seamless and shorter, you should meet all the requirements, have enough finances, and prepare all the needed documents.

Check out the most in-demand jobs in Switzerland, where you will have the best chances.

How to find a job in Switzerland as a foreigner?

Switzerland has numerous job opportunities for highly skilled foreigners, especially in the following industries:

  • IT
  • Financial services
  • Hospitality 
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Engineering

As a foreigner in Switzerland, you can find jobs in Switzerland in the following ways:

Searching on websites

One of the best places to find job opportunities as a foreigner in Switzerland is on websites. There are numerous websites available in Switzerland, and you can easily find them through a simple Google search. 

Some of the websites you can consider are:

What jobs pay the most and how much money do you need to live in Switzerland? Learn about salaries and the cost of living in the country in this article.


According to research, 70% of jobs in Switzerland are filled through networking. You can network with people by joining the following platforms:

Contact a recruitment agency

As a foreigner in Switzerland, working with a recruitment agency is the easiest and fastest method of finding a job. This is because the agencies are usually aware of the job vacancies before they are advertised in any forum.

To avoid being conned, check to ensure that the company you choose to work with is a member of the recruitment agencies’ regulatory body in Switzerland.

Check out foreign organizations 

Switzerland, especially Geneva, is home to numerous foreign organizations that you can consider. Some organizations you can apply to, especially if you are fluent in written and spoken English, are the World Trade Organization, United Nations and Red cross. 

Make use of the local newspapers

Another way of finding work in Switzerland is by checking the newspaper for job updates. Look into the stellentinserate or stellenanzeigen for the ones in German, annunci di lavoro for those in Italian, and les offres d’emploi if you understand French.

You can also check national newspapers with online job searches, such as Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Handelsblatt. 

How to apply for a job In Switzerland as a foreigner

Below is a table showing the documents you need to apply for a job in Switzerland and their requirements:

CV Should contain your personal information, academic background, reference contacts, and work experience.
Cover letterIt’s supposed to be in the language of the job advert unless requested to use English. 
It should contain a summary of your skills and reason for applying for the job.
Reference lettersThey should be from your former employers indicating your strengths, skills, and responsibilities at their company.
Copies of educational certificatesThey must be certified as copies of the original.

Once you have these documents, you can send them to the company of interest through e-mail or in person. If the employer is impressed by your profile, they’ll invite you for an online or in-person interview and offer you a job upon success.

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