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Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Switzerland has made reciprocal agreements regarding working holiday visas with several countries. Here's what you need to know.

Which foreign countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa arrangements with? Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
Which foreign countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa arrangements with? Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Over the past few decades, countries around the globe have rolled out ‘working holiday visa’ agreements.

These visa schemes, largely targeted at young people, allow people to work and live in a particular country, usually for a set period of time and pursuant to certain conditions.

In recent years, Switzerland has expanded its own form of a ‘working holiday visa’, although there are some important differences to be aware of.

Unlike some of the better known schemes like those in place in Australia, applicants are discouraged from moving around and are generally required to stay with the one employer for the duration.

The goal of the visa scheme is to allow applicants to “expand their occupational and linguistic skills in Switzerland”.

The visa scheme runs for 18 months and cannot be extended.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

The agreements are made between countries, meaning your fate will depend on whether your government has at some point struck a deal with Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between permanent residence and Swiss citizenship?

If you are from the European Union or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), then you will be able to live and work in Switzerland as is – and will not need to go through this process.

If you come from outside the EU, you will only be able to apply for this visa if you are a citizen of the following countries:

Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States.

What does ‘reciprocal’ mean in this context? 

Where these agreements have been struck, they have entitled citizens of both countries to certain rights and permissions in the other country. 

However, while these arrangements might be reciprocal, they are not identical. 

For instance, while citizens of Australia can enter Switzerland and work, the rules for Swiss citizens in Australia are significantly different. 

Therefore, if considering each program, be sure to study all of the relevant details as these will change from country to country and from agreement to agreement. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Switzerland

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Switzerland suspends eased visa scheme for Russians

Switzerland on Friday suspended a simplified visa regime with Russia, aligning itself with the European Union which has taken a similar step in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. 

Switzerland suspends eased visa scheme for Russians

The government said it has “completely suspended” a 2009 agreement easing rules for Russian citizens to enter the Alpine country.

“This does not mean that a general visa ban has been imposed on Russian citizens,” Switzerland’s Federal Council said in a statement, adding the normal visa regime remained in place.

The move mirrors a decision taken by the EU, which in late August agreed to suspend a visa facilitation deal with Russia but stopped short of a wider visa ban.

“It is in Switzerland’s interest to contribute to a common and harmonised visa policy in Europe,” the Swiss government said.

“Otherwise, it risks facing an increasing number of visa applications submitted to its representations abroad by Russian nationals seeking to circumvent EU rules.”

Traditionally neutral, Switzerland broke with its usual stance in the days after the start of the war by aligning itself with European Union economic sanctions — angering Moscow.

The decision has faced some opposition in the wealthy central European country, with right-wing politicians calling for a national vote to reaffirm Swiss impartiality.

But last week, the government said the Swiss policy of neutrality remained “valid”, adding it left “sufficient room for manoeuvre” to respond to events happening across Europe since the start of the Ukraine war.