Work permits For Members

For what reasons can Swiss authorities refuse to renew work permits?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
For what reasons can Swiss authorities refuse to renew work permits?
Photo: Pixabay

If your employment in Switzerland depends on your work permit — as is the case for most foreigners — then you may worry that it won’t be extended. Can this actually happen?


Many foreign nationals working in Switzerland probably take their work permit for granted and never give a moment’s thought to what would happen if it got revoked.

But having the permit taken away is probably the worst-case scenario for any foreign national.

There are, however, several situations that could result in this drastic measure — some preventable and others beyond the person’s control.

These are the main ones:

You were fired or your work contract ended

This concerns particularly third-country nationals, as they work in Switzerland under stricter conditions than their EU / EFTA counterparts.

If their short-term L or B permits are tied to a particular job, which ends within the specified time period (usually up to a year), then their permit expires when the contract is over.

As third-country nationals are subject to a quota system, their work permits are not automatically renewed.

READ ALSO: Switzerland's planned work quotas for third-country nationals

This is where citizens of third countries are disadvantaged vis-à-vis their European counterparts, who have a virtually unlimited access to Swiss work permits.

But under certain circumstances, even they can see their permits withdrawn.

For instance: your permit won’t be extended if:

You forget to renew it

Typically, you will receive a letter from local authorities approximately six weeks before the deadline reminding you to renew. There will also be an application form that you will need to fill out.

It must be submitted to your commune of residence no earlier than three months and no later than two weeks prior to the expiration date.

However, if you forget or neglect to do so, then it’s on you.

The authorities could take special circumstances, such as serious illness, debilitating accident, or another extreme situation into consideration and make an exception, but you shouldn’t count on that.

Basically, if you let your permit lapse, you will lose your right to work in Switzerland.


You are not integrated

You must know by now that Swiss authorities take integration — or lack of it — very seriously.

This includes a sense of personal and financial responsibility (which means being self-sufficient and not relying on social assistance), respect for Swiss values, as well as proficiency in the language of your region.

If you fail to meet any of these conditions, then the government can refuse to extend the validity of your permit.

Another possible scenario is that your permit could be downgraded — for example, from the highest (C) to a lower one (B).

READ ALSO: Can Switzerland downgrade my C work permit?

You commit a crime

If your offence is judged serious enough, then you can kiss your permit goodbye.

The reason here is obvious: this behaviour shows that you don’t respect law, order, and Switzerland’s values in general.

If you are proven to have committed an offence, your permit could very well be revoked or not renewed.

This does not bode well for your work permit. Photo by Allison Dinner / AFP

You leave the country

If you have a B permit and leave the country for an extended period of time, then you will lose the right to work and live here.

In the event you eventually do come back, the permit won’t be re-instated automatically — you will have to start the application process from scratch.


If you are a holder of a C permit and plan to leave the country for more than six months (but not longer than four years), then you have the option of putting the permit ‘on hold.’

You must request this suspension from your cantonal authorities in writing, explaining the reasons why you plan to remain abroad for an extended period of time.

If you simply leave for more than six months without ‘freezing’ your permit, then it will expire in due time, and you will have to re-apply for it under the usual admission conditions.

READ ALSO : How long can I stay out of Switzerland and keep my residency rights?



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