Work permits For Members

Do you need a lawyer to help get a Swiss work permit or citizenship?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Do you need a lawyer to help get a Swiss work permit or citizenship?
Do you need a lawyer to help get a Swiss work permit or citizenship?Illustration Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

There are a number of ads on the internet from law firms offering their assistance in obtaining a work permit, or even citizenship, in Switzerland. Do you really need a legal specialist to help you do that?


As an example, one law firm advertises its services by promising to help foreigners “in obtaining the desired permit or even Switzerland citizenship." 

It goes on to say that it can assist in getting a Swiss work permit or passport "to citizens from all over the world” — that is, to both EU / EFTA  and third-country nationals.

If you want to immigrate to Switzerland, you may be tempted to hire this (or a similar) law firm to help you with the process.

But should you do that?

If you are familiar with Swiss immigration rules, you should be suspicious of this statement the law firm makes on its website: ”No matter the country of origin of an applicant, our immigration lawyer will help obtain the desired permit or even Switzerland citizenship provided that they meet the requirements imposed under the national legislation."

Do you see what's wrong with this claim?

Basically, it suggests that even if you come from outside the EU / EFTA, a lawyer can help you get a permit and / or Swiss passport.

Before you part with your money, however, there are several important things to consider.

Firstly, if you read the text carefully, you will see that the law firm in question does not promise or guarantee it will actually obtain a work permit or citizenship for you.


Instead, it offers to give you information about various types of Swiss work permits, fill out an application on your behalf, and submit your documents to immigration authorities — pretty much everything that you can do yourself.

Now, if you are too busy to get involved yourself, or are not sure how to complete the process, then you can, of course, delegate this task to an immigration attorney, and pay for these services.
But you should know that no lawyer, no matter how skilled and smooth-talking, has the ability to obtain a permit or citizenship for you.

Also keep in mind that any information an attorney will give you about the application process and other formalities, is readily available, for free, from the website of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). 


Read the fine print

Without actually making false statements, some of the claims on the law firm’s website are misleading — not because of what they say, but because of what they omit.

For instance, the site states that the first step toward obtaining a work permit “is applying for a visa that enables [foreigners] to enter the country.”

This statement gives the erroneous impression that everyone must have a visa to be eligible for a permit, but this is not the case: EU / EFTA nationals are free to come to Switzerland and seek a work permit without a visa.  

And when it comes to people from non-EU or non-EFTA states, the law firm offers its help in applying for a permit.

It doesn’t specify, however, (as it should) that unlike their EU / EFTA counterparts, third-country nationals can’t apply for a permit themselves, but their prospective employer must do this on their behalf.

In conclusion, you don’t need lawyers to apply for a permit / citizenship, and you certainly  shouldn’t  believe they will work miracles in this regard.

But the option of hiring one is there, if that's what you want to do.


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