Residence permit / family reunion

Which residence permits are available for foreigners in Switzerland, which of your family members you can have join you in Switzerland, and what a biometric foreigner's identity card is - you can find answers to these and other questions in the subchapter Residence Permit / Family Reunion.

Further information about residence permit / family reunification

Naturalization

Questions:

01. What residence permit do I need if I am an EU/EFTA citizen?

The following countries are considered EU/EFTA countries:

EU-17: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden

EU-8: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia

EU-2: Bulgaria, Romania

EFTA: Fürstentum Liechtenstein, Norwegen, Island, Schweiz

If you come from an EU-17/EU-8/EFTA country, you may stay in Switzerland for three months without a permit. You may also work here, but you must report this. The registration procedure for short-term employment can be found at the Website of the State Secretariat for Migration.
If you are staying in Switzerland for longer than three months, you must register with your municipality of residence and apply for a residence permit. For this you need a valid identity card, an employment contract, a copy of the rental contract and a passport photo.

The following residence permits are available for EU/EFTA citizens:

L EU/EFTA permit (short-term residence permit): The short stay permit is valid for stays of less than one year. If you can prove that you have a job in Switzerland lasting between three months and one year, you will receive a short-term residence permit for a period of validity corresponding to that of the employment contract. This can be renewed after one year. You can also obtain an L permit if you are looking for a job. However, you will not be entitled to social security.

Permit B EU/EFTA (residence permit): The B permit is valid for five years for EU/EFTA citizens who can prove that they have a job for an indefinite period or for at least one year. The permit can then be extended for another five years if all conditions are met. Persons without a job can obtain a residence permit if they have sufficient financial means and adequate health and accident insurance.

C EU/EFTA permit (permanent residence permit): The settlement permit is granted after a stay of five or ten years in Switzerland. This right of residence is unlimited and is not subject to any conditions. A settlement permit after five years is normally granted to persons from the EU-17 states (except Cyprus and Malta) and the EFTA states.

Identity card Ci EU/EFTA (residence permit with gainful employment): This residence permit concerns spouses of officials of intergovernmental organizations and of members of foreign representations and their children up to the age of 25. It allows them to stay in Switzerland for the duration of the family member's employment.

G EU/EFTA permit (cross-border commuter permit): Cross-border commuters are persons who live in the foreign border zone and work within the neighboring border zone of Switzerland. If you are from one of the EU-25 or EFTA countries, you can live anywhere in the EU/EFTA and work anywhere in Switzerland. You only have to return to your place of residence on a weekly basis. The G EU/EFTA permit is valid for five years, provided your employment contract is unlimited or valid for more than one year. If your employment contract is valid for less than one year, the period of validity of the cross-border commuter permit depends on the employment contract.

If you have a Extension of your residence permit, the application can be submitted to the municipality of residence at the earliest three months and at the latest two weeks before the expiry of the residence permit.

For information on EU/EFTA residence permits, please contact here. Responsible in the canton of Obwalden is the Migration Department:

Migration department
Office for Employment Obwalden
St. Antonistrasse 4
6061 Sarnen
Phone: 041 666 66 70
Fax: 041 666 66 75
Email: migration(at)ow.ch
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 08.00-11.45 and 13.30 to 17.00

You can find more information about residence permits here.
Here you will find the residence application for non-employed persons from EU/EFTA countries.

02. Welche Aufenthaltsbewilligung benötige ich als Bürgerin oder Bürger eines Drittstaats?

L permit (short stay permit)The short stay permit is valid for stays of the duration of less than one year. If you can prove that you have a job in Switzerland lasting between three months and one year, you will be granted a short-term residence permit for a period of validity corresponding to that of the employment contract. However, the Federal Council has set an annual maximum number of short-term residence permits for third-country nationals.

Permit B (residence permit): This residence permit is issued to third-country nationals who are staying in Switzerland for a longer period of time for a specific purpose, with or without gainful employment. The B permit for third-country nationals is usually issued for the first time on one year limited in time. There are annual fixed maximum numbers in the issuance of this pass. However, the B passes, once issued, are normally renewed annually if there are no reasons against renewal.

C permit (settlement permit): The settlement permit for third-country nationals is usually issued after a stay of ten years in Switzerland issued. This right of residence is unlimited and not subject to any conditions.

Ci permit (residence permit with gainful employment): This residence permit concerns spouses of officials of intergovernmental organizations and of members of foreign representations and their children up to the age of 25. It allows them to stay in Switzerland for the duration of the work assignment of the family member.

The Migration Department is responsible for residence permits in the canton of Obwalden:

Migration department
Office for Employment Obwalden
St. Antonistrasse 4
6061 Sarnen
Phone: 041 666 66 70
Fax: 041 666 66 75
Email: migration(at)ow.ch
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 08.00-11.45 and 13.30 to 17.00

You can find more information about residence permits here.
Here you will find the residence application for non-employed persons from third countries.

03. What residence permits are available for asylum seekers and refugees?

Permit F (provisionally admitted foreigners): Einen Ausweis F erhalten Personen, die aus der Schweiz weggewiesen wurden, wobei die Wegweisung sich aber als unzulässig (Verstoss gegen Völkerrecht), unzumutbar (wegen konkreter Gefährdung der Person) oder unmöglich (vollzugstechnische Gründe) erwiesen hat. Der Ausweis gilt für 12 Monate und kann vom Aufenthaltskanton um jeweils 12 Monate verlängert werden. Die kantonalen Behörden können vorläufig aufgenommenen Personen eine Bewilligung zur Erwerbstätigkeit erteilen.

Identity card N (asylum seekers)An N permit is issued to persons who have applied for asylum in Switzerland and are in the asylum procedure. During the asylum procedure they basically have a right of presence in Switzerland. Under certain circumstances, they may be allowed to engage in gainful employment.

Identity card S (persons in need of protection)This permit entitles the holder to stay temporarily in Switzerland, but neither to cross the border nor to return to Switzerland. If persons with an S permit take up a job or change jobs, they must obtain a permit for this purpose. They must present this permit to the competent cantonal authority two weeks before the expiry date without being asked to do so. A change of address must be reported to the competent authority within eight days. This pass is not proof of the holder's identity.

Recognized refugees either receive asylum and thus a residence permit (B permit) or they are provisionally admitted as a recognized refugee and receive an F permit (provisionally admitted refugee). Recognized refugees with a B permit as well as with an F permit can stay and work in Switzerland permanently.

For more information on these residence permits, please contact here or also here.
You can get an overview of the residence categories in the asylum area here.

04. Which family members may I bring to Switzerland if I am from an EU/EFTA state?

Wenn Sie EU/EFTA-Bürgerin oder EU/EFTA-Bürger sind und über eine Aufenthaltsbewilligung oder Kurzaufenthaltsbewilligung für die Schweiz verfügen, dürfen folgende Ihrer Familienmitglieder in die Schweiz ziehen:

  • Spouse or partner in a registered partnership.
  • Children and grandchildren (including those of your spouse) up to the age of 21. Older children and grandchildren may join you if you are responsible for their maintenance.
  • Parents and grandparents (including those of your spouse) if you are responsible for their support.


If you are in education (school, studies), you may only have your wife or husband and dependent children join you in Switzerland.

Here you will find the application for family reunification, which you have to fill out in case of family reunification.

Weitere Informationen zum Thema Familiennachzug gibt es here.

05. Welche Familienangehörigen darf ich in die Schweiz holen, wenn ich Bürgerin oder Bürger eines Drittstaates bin?

Drittstaatsangehörige mit einer Niederlassungsbewilligung für die Schweiz (Ausweis C):

  • Spouse
  • Partner in registered partnership
  • Children up to the age of 18

Third-country nationals with a residence permit (permit B):

  • No right to family reunification
  • but can be approved if the conditions for family reunification are met (for details see question 6)

For more information on family reunification here.

06. What conditions must be met for me to bring my family members to Switzerland?

In order for you to be able to have your family members join you in Switzerland, the following conditions must be met:

  • Your Apartment must be appropriate. Thus, it must correspond to the local conditions and be large enough for the whole family.
  • If you are an employee, your financial circumstances are not relevant. However, if you are self-employed or non-employed, you must be able to prove that you are financially responsible for the Maintenance of the family members can come up.
  • If you are a third-country national or a national of a third country, you must be able to prove that your stay is consolidated ist. Dies bedeutet, dass Sie angemessen integriert und seit mindestens 12 Monaten erwerbstätig sein sollten.

In order to obtain a residence permit, the family members you wish to have join you in Switzerland must, among other things, meet the following requirements Documents can show:

  • a valid identity card or passport,
  • a visa in the case of persons who are subject to visa requirements,
  • a confirmation from the home country about the family relationship to the family member already living in Switzerland,
  • a confirmation that the maintenance of the family members joining them is taken care of, if the person already living in Switzerland is liable to pay maintenance for these family members,
  • Copy of the rental contract in Obwalden

You can find more information here

The Wanted for family reunification in the canton of Obwalden must be submitted to the Migration Department at the Office of Employment:

Migration department
Office for Employment Obwalden
St. Antonistrasse 4
6061 Sarnen
Phone: 041 666 66 70
Fax: 041 666 66 75
E-mail: migration(at)ow.ch
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 08.00-11.45 and 13.30 to 17.00.

The Registration after moving to Switzerland is done by personal audition at the municipality of residence.

07. What is a biometric foreigner identity card?

The biometric foreigner's ID card is a credit card-sized ID card. Two digital fingerprints and the facial image are stored on a non-visible chip in the ID card.

The following persons will receive a biometric alien's identity card if their old identity card has to be renewed due to expiry or data changes:

  • Third-country nationals,
  • Third-country family members of Swiss citizens,
  • Third-country family members of EU/EFTA nationals,
  • Nationals of states that are member states of the EU but not party to the FMPA (Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons).

A biometric ID card is issued for the following categories of foreigners:

  • Short stay permit (L)
  • Residence permit (B)
  • Settlement Permit (C)

For information on the biometric foreigner's identity card from the State Secretariat for Migration, please contact here.

Information on additional travel documents for foreign persons can be found at here.

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