Reader question: Can Switzerland downgrade my C work permit?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Reader question: Can Switzerland downgrade my C work permit?
If you have a criminal record, expect your C permit to be downgraded — or canceled altogether. Image by Klaus Hausmann from Pixabay

Most foreigners living in Switzerland are vying for a C permit, as it gives its holders sweeping rights. However, there are situations when this coveted permit could be downgraded.


Unlike ‘lower’ type of permits, such as L for ‘short-term residents’ and B for ‘resident foreign nationals’ — which are regulated by various conditions and restrictions — those who have a C permit enjoy almost the same rights as Swiss citizens.

Among them are unrestricted access to employment, being able to change jobs or cantons of residence, setting up own businesses, buying real estate without any restrictions, and having access to educational grants.

The only thing that separates a C permit from a citizenship is the right to vote or run for office.

No wonder foreigners who obtain a C permit guard it with their lives.

READ MORE: 'Plan in advance': How easy is it to get permanent residency in Switzerland?


Permit C is also a stepping-stone to naturalisation — that is, if all the required conditions are fulfilled.

This is what happens in the vast majority of cases.

READ MORE: How to apply for Swiss citizenship: An essential guide 

However, under certain circumstances, C permits can be downgraded to the lower type of permit – B. While it also grants foreign nationals certain rights, including employment and residency, it is more limited in its scope than C.

When can a C permit be downgraded?

There are basically three scenarios under which a C permit could be ‘demoted’.

One is if you commit a crime — not just in Switzerland, but also abroad — or threaten Switzerland’s security in any way.

In fact, if you are convicted of offences such as murder, rape, serious sexual assault, violent acts, armed robbery, as well as drug and people trafficking, you will not only lose your permit but be also deported from Switzerland.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: When can a foreigner be ordered to leave Switzerland?

Also, if Swiss authorities discover that you had lied when applying for a C permit, that is considered a valid reason for downgrading as well.

However, your offences don’t have to be of a criminal nature.

You can also see your permit downgraded if you and/or your immediate family rely on social aid.

Switzerland wants immigrants to be self sufficient, meaning that asking for state assistance could be an indication you will continue to do so down the line.

Not only that, but your application for Swiss citizenship will be turned down if you have been on welfare in the three years prior to applying.


And then there is the matter of integration.

Normally, by the time you receive your C permit after five years of residency in Switzerland (if you are an EU/EFTA national) or 10 years (for third country citizens), you should be sufficiently integrated.

However, if authorities find out that you are not (see the link below), your permit will be downgraded.

READ MORE: Reader question: What does being 'successfully integrated' in Switzerland mean?



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