Who needs a visa?

Holders of an EEA (EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) passport do not require a visa to travel to, or stay in, Switzerland for a maximum period of three months.

Certain nationals in possession of both a valid Residence Permit issued by a Schengen member state, and a recognized travel document, are exempt from visa requirements.

Business Visa

Business Visas are issued to visitors travelling to Switzerland for a short-term trip to conduct business activities including attending business meetings, discussions or conferences.

Type of Visa

Depending on the applicant’s nationality, business visitors to Switzerland tend to fall under the Entry (Business) Visa or Schengen Type C Visa category. Exemptions can apply depending on whether the applicant’s country of nationality holds reciprocal agreements with Switzerland.

Application Process

All Business Visa applications will need to be submitted in the applicant’s country of residence.

Processing time

Processing times for such visa applications tend to vary.   Applications submitted to the relevant authority in the UK generally take 7 working days.


A business visitor is generally granted a visa for a duration of 3 to 6 months. However, visas can be issued that are only valid for a specific trip or, alternatively for up to 12 months.

Work Authorisation

There are several categories of Swiss work authorisation, appropriate category will be dependent upon individual circumstances.  The following information provides details of the favouredL Work and Residence Permit category.

Type of Visa

The L Work and Residence Permit, has 3 sub categories.

Application Process

There are three stages in obtaining the L Work and Residence Permit:

  • Pre-approval application for work authorisation.
  • Approval from the relevant authorities and submission of the visa application and collection of the visa.
  • Registration of the foreign worker at a relevant Swiss authority.


All 3 steps are processed by the Cantonal Labour Authorities, Cantonal Migration Office and or to the relevantSwiss authorities in the applicants country of origin Swiss Immigration authorities either overseas or in Switzerland.

Processing time

Processing times for L Work and Residence Permit applications can vary but are generally processed in 8 to 12 weeks.


L Work and Residence Permits generally allow employers to employ overseas workers for a period between 12 months and 2 years.


Dependents may be granted permission to remain in line with the foreign worker.

It is possible for the spouse of an L Permit holder to work in Switzerland. However, conditions do apply.

Penalties for Non Compliance


Employing a foreign worker who does not have the requisite work authorisation is an offence.  If convicted, the company may be fined.  Imprisonment of corporate officials is also possible.


Foreign workers who do not comply with the immigration laws of Switzerland may be fined and possibly imprisoned.

If the foreign worker breaches the immigration rules their visa may be cancelled and they will be required to leave Switzerland.

Areas of Concern

  • The Swiss government works towards a quota system.
  • Each local province or Canton has its own immigration department from which immigration approval must be sought.
  • The employee must be able to demonstrate qualifications to a degree level and adequate work experience.



The contents of this article are for information purposes only.  The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice.  Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice.  You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances.  No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.