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Work permits For Members

Can I change jobs under the rules of my Swiss work permit?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Can I change jobs under the rules of my Swiss work permit?
Seeking (or not) another job depends on your nationality and work permit. Image by Adrian from Pixabay

If you are a foreign national employed in Switzerland, you may want to, at one time or another, find a new job. But can you do so?

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Say you are unhappy with your current position and want to find another employment.

Or maybe a new professional opportunity arises, and you would like to take it up.

There are many situations when you might want to change jobs or employers, but are not sure whether your current work permit allows you to do so.

The answer is: it depends.

As a foreign national, your work and residency rights (or restrictions) are determined by two factors: your nationality and the kind of permit you have.

READ ALSO: Who determines what kind of Swiss work permit you receive?

This is what you should know

As mentioned above, your freedom (or lack thereof) to change jobs depends on your nationality / passport which, in turn, determine what kind of permit you are granted.

As a rule, if you are a citizen of an EU state, or else Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (EFTA), you can switch jobs and employers at will.

If, however, you come from a third country, your rights to do so are much more limited.

But much also depends on what kind of permit you have.

Generally speaking, there are three types of work / residency permits issued to foreign residents in Switzerland: L, B, and C.

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Let’s look at ‘C’ first

This permanent residency status is the ‘highest’ in the permit hierarchy and it proffers its holders sweeping rights.  

Among them are limitless employment opportunities, such as being able to change jobs and cantons of residence, and setting up own businesses.

If you have a C permit, then you are free to take any job you want.

This applies to people of any nationality — EU /EFTA citizens, as well as those from third countries. That’s because as soon as you are eligible for, and receive, your C permit, your citizenship doesn’t matter — all C permit holders are equal under the law.

What about the ‘L’ permit?

This is a bit tricky because this particular permit is issued for short-term employment — usually for up to a year — to third-country workers. 

As it is tied to a specific employer, its holders can’t, in principle, change jobs.

At times, however, this permit is also issued to people from the EU / EFTA who come to Switzerland for a temporary assignment.

If they wish to look for another job, they should apply for a B permit (see below) before changing employers.

It is a simple enough process: you just have to apply to your local immigration authorities, though you are allowed to stay in Switzerland, permit-less, for up to three months while looking for a job. 

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Last but not least, the B permit

This is the most common permit granted to foreigners in Switzerland.

There are two kinds — the short-term (similar to the aforementioned L permit) — and  ones that are valid for one year and can be renewed annually.

Foreign nationals with the latter kind of B permit can take up a new job, especially if they come from the EU / EFTA.

Those from outside Europe, on the other hand, who are subject to annual quotas, face more restrictions in this regard, as explained above.

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