Residence applicants must use recognized language certificates beginning Jan. 1
7 Jan 20
IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? Swiss officials now require residence permit applicants to provide a recognized language certificate to show that they meet applicable language requirements.
- Implementation time frame: Jan. 1, 2020.
- Visas/permits affected: B (temporary residence) and C (permanent residence) permits.
- Who is affected: Dependent spouses of Non-EU/EFTA B-permit holders, B-permit holders seeking renewal, foreign nationals seeking permanent residency (C permits) except for nationals from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
- Next steps: The list of recognized language certificates is available online in German, French, and Italian.
Background: Switzerland adopted new language requirements for residence permit applicants in 2019. These rules are generally as follows:
|Type of residence||Required level of proficiency|
|Permanent residence (C permits) based on 10 years of residency||A2 level in oral language skills, A1 level in written language skills.|
|Permanent residence (C permits) based on five years of residency||B1 level in oral, A1 level in written language. Nationals of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are exempt.|
|B residence permits based on family reunification||A1 or equivalent oral skills in the language of the place of residence.|
|Spouses and registered partners of Swiss citizens and of C-permit permanent residents||A2 level in oral language skills, A1 level in written language skills.|
|Naturalization||B1 level in oral language skills, A2 level in written language skills.|
Throughout 2019, authorities in the Swiss cantons had the authority to decide which certificates were acceptable to establish the required level of language proficiency. This changed Jan. 1 when authorities throughout Switzerland began requiring “language passports” or other recognized language certificates.
Analysis & Comments: While language requirements themselves have not changed, applicants will be required to provide a recognized language certificate when submitting residence applications. Failure to do so may lead to unnecessary delays in the application process.
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