At a Glance
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Assessing Travel and Visa Obligations
Whether you can travel lawfully as a business visitor or require work authorization depends on the types of activities you will be conducting during your time in Switzerland. In case you are unsure if your activities constitute business or work, please seek advice from your immigration counsel.
Traveling for Business
What sorts of activities can I pursue as a business visitor?
As business visitors, travelers to Switzerland may engage in the activities below. This list is not comprehensive and other activities may qualify as business.
- Attend business meetings
- Develop professional business contacts
- Negotiate contracts
If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Switzerland?
European Union, US and many other select nationals do not require a visa to enter Switzerland to conduct business activities and are eligible for a visa waiver. Switzerland is a member of the Schengen Area, a free-travel zone comprised of 26 European countries. If your nationality is not found on the list of visa-waivered nationals for the Schengen Area, you must obtain a Schengen C Visa prior to travel. Both visa-waivered nationals and those who require a visa are authorized to travel to Switzerland and throughout the Schengen area. However, travelers cannot spend more than 90 days within any 180-day period in the entire Schengen Area.
Working in Switzerland
What sorts of activities require a work permit?
The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Swiss law if performed for more than 8 days a year. This list is not comprehensive and many other professional activities are considered work in Switzerland, even if conducted for a short duration.
- Hands-on technical work
- Repairs and maintenance
- Project planning and implementation
- Facilitating training
If I am traveling to Switzerland for work, what type of work permit do I need?
The type of work permit required depends on your qualifications, whether your employer has an entity in Switzerland, and the nature and duration of your work. The most common Swiss work permits are:
- 120-Day Work Permit (short-term work permit)
- L Permit (long-term work and residence permit)
- B Permit (long-term work and residence permit)
- G Permit (residence permit for EU-EFTA nationals who live in neighboring countries and commute to work in Switzerland)
Are there any nationals who are exempt from work permit requirements?
EU-EFTA nationals, including Romanian and Bulgarian nationals are exempt from the work permit requirement in Switzerland if they are on a local Swiss employment contract. EU-EFTA nationals who will be working in Switzerland as an intra-company transfer require work authorization.
Croatian nationals are not exempt from the work permit requirements in Switzerland.
What else should I know?
Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection or work authorization entail careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.
Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.