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How to get PR in Switzerland – A Guide

Updated on 02 February, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

Switzerland is one of the most developed countries in the world. As per International Monetary Fund, Switzerland has the eighth-highest per capita gross domestic product. Swiss cities Geneva and Zurich are among the best cities globally regarding the quality of life. These are some reasons that make Switzerland the top choice among people who want to settle abroad. Want to gain some knowledge about how to become a Swiss citizen? This article will give a complete overview of how to get PR in Switzerland and  Switzerland PR for Indians.

Switzerland is known for accepting large numbers of immigrants every year. Nearly a quarter of the total population of Switzerland consists of outsiders from various countries. To stay in Switzerland for more than three months, you need to apply for a Swiss residence permit irrespective of your nationality. Anyone who wishes to apply for a Swiss residence permit should get a permanent residence by applying for a C permit. 

What is a C permit?

A ‘C permit allows individuals to stay for an indefinite period of time. The permit holder doesn’t need the authorization to switch jobs or work independently. C Permit differs from the other two permits in Switzerland, which are:

  • L permit –  a temporary residence permit provided for shorter stays of up to one year
  • B permit-  a commencing residence permit generally issued for a year but can be renewed 

Although the standard requirement for a C permit in Switzerland is 10 years, EU/EFTA citizens and nationals from the US and Canada can apply after 5 years. 

How can you get a C permit?

A person can request a C-permit based on two conditions:

  • If a person is residing in Switzerland for minimum 10 years on a B or L permit or has spent the last 5 years in the country without any disturbance.
  • If the person gives no reason, that can lead to the refusal of the permit. In other words, if they have no criminal record, they do not owe any debts and is not a risk to national security. 
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Expiry of the C permit 

An individual’s C permit naturally expires if he/she leaves Switzerland for more than 6 months. After that, the individual has to follow the usual admission conditions regulated by the Law on Foreigners and Integration (LEI) and apply for a new permit when they plan to return. 

However, if the C permit holders decide to leave the country for the purpose of study or professional work, they can maintain a work permit for more than 4 years provided he has informed the cantonal authorities in the form of written documentation. Once the request is approved by the authorities, the permit gets suspended for the period the holder spends abroad. 

Some other cases are mentioned below:

  • If a C permit holder gets relocated abroad by his recruiter for more than 6 months, the C permit can be seized for a time period not longer than 4 years or not exceeding the period the holder spent under the C permit in Switzerland.
  • If the time spent in another country is not more than 6 years and the holder resided in Switzerland for minimum 10 years with a C permit before leaving for another country, authorities are allowed to deliver the C permit 2 years after the holder returns.
  • Children of migrants who have lived in Switzerland for a longer period of time and retire with a C permit can also pause their permit for 4 years if they plan to return to their home country. 

To conclude, if a C permit holder officially informs the authorities about his exit from Switzerland without sending a request to freeze his permit, it consequently gets blocked from the date the permit holder leaves. 

Similarities between citizenship and permanent residence in Switzerland

The major similarity between citizenship and permanent residence in Switzerland involves the general residency requirement which is 10 years for both. Apart from that, the other similarities include:

  • able to access the Swiss labor market
  • ability to work as a freelancer in Switzerland
  • having the right to study in Switzerland 
  • eligible for educational grants
  • the ability to purchase Swiss real estate without any constraints
  • live anywhere and move freely in Switzerland
  • access to Swiss welfare benefits and social assistance 

Advantages of getting entire Swiss citizenship: 

  • right to a Swiss passport and the ability to travel overseas as a citizen of Switzerland
  • right to vote in all Swiss elections
  • right to stand for public office in Switzerland
  • privilege to travel in and out of Switzerland as many times you wish and move out of the country for indefinite periods without hampering your residency rights.

Although there are many advantages of getting Swiss citizenship, there are some additional responsibilities that you are supposed to follow as a Swiss citizen. For instance, it is compulsory for all male Swiss citizens between the age of 18 to 34 to serve a period of military service. Also, the cost is considerably high. Therefore, individuals seeking citizenship in Switzerland must keep these factors in mind before applying for citizenship. 

What are the requirements for Switzerland permanent residence?

Though the requirements for permanent residence in Switzerland vary between the cantons, the minimum requirement is- the candidate applying for the Swiss permanent residence must have lived in Switzerland for a minimum of 10 years. However, there are some exceptions for people who can apply for PR after 5 years. These exceptions are:

  • EU/EFTA citizens
  • citizens of the United States of America and Canada
  • spouses and children of Swiss citizens between the age of 12 to 18 or C permit holders

Apart from these, children under 12 years of age who move to Switzerland to live with  their family automatically gain permanent residency. 

Conditions that B permit holders must follow to apply for a C permit?

B permit holders are eligible to apply for a C permit in specific cantons if they have

  • a clean criminal history
  • you are not a threat to Swiss security and public order 
  • proficiency of the national language to A2 level- written and B1 level- spoken
  • you are financially independent and not a receipt of welfare benefits
  • you are integrated towards Swiss life and customs

How to get PR in Switzerland from India?

As the requirements and process of applying for a C permit are different for each canton, it is advisable to stay in touch with your local cantonal immigration office who can brief you regarding the same. Here is a guide on how to get pr in Switzerland from India.

Along with filling out the application form for a C permit, the documents that you need to provide include:

  • legal ID proof 
  • address in Switzerland
  • proof of current residence permit (B or L permit)
  • evidence that you meet the necessary requirements (eg- language certificates)

Cost of Permanent residence in Switzerland

The cost of Permanent residence for C permit holders differs depending on the Canton you are applying for. Therefore, it is always a smart decision to reach out to your specific canton regarding the amount. 

Generally, the charge of some cantons is more for permanent residence permits provided to non-EU/EFTA nationals. However, children can pay less. 

  • Cost for an adult permit 

On average, the cost is more than 100 CHF (Swiss franc)

  • Cost for children 

For children, the cost is around CHF 35 which again varies from canton to canton. 

How to renew your permanent residence in Switzerland?

The C permit is valid for up to 3 years. To renew your permit you will need to get in touch with your cantonal immigration office not prior to 3 months and not later than two weeks before the expiry date on your permit. 

Some recent changes are introduced for the renewal of Swiss permanent residency. According to these changes, for renewing the Swiss residence permit, your good behavior and integration will be taken into account. You will be evaluated on the basis of the below-mentioned criteria 

  • participation in economic activities
  • regard for the constitutional values
  • regard for public order
  • familiarity with the local language

If you fail to meet the above-mentioned criteria, your permit might get downgraded from a C permit to a B permit. 

How can family members get Permanent residence in Switzerland?

If you are a C permit holder in Switzerland, on the basis of your residential status, you might be eligible to bring your family members to the country. But before entering Switzerland, the members of your family must apply for a Switzerland Family reunion visa in their home country. 

The documents required to apply for the Swiss visa are:

  • A total of three completed and signed application forms in the official languages of Switzerland- French, Italian, German, Spanish or English.
  • The Switzerland Family reunion visa application form ( you can download it online or find it at the Swiss Embassy)
  • Travel document/Valid passport issued in the previous ten years
  • Three copies of 1-4 pages one and the last page of passport 
  • the relevant pages on their passport: pages 1-4 and the last page( pages displaying the date when the passport was issued and the date of expiry and the pages showing previous visas)
  • Four biometric passport-sized photographs of the last six months
  • Three copies of the passport, identity card and Swiss residence permit of the family member residing in Switzerland.
  • A comprehensive excerpt of the personal registration certificate – original and two copies. The document must be translated into one of Switzerland’s official languages.
  • A document stating the candidate’s criminal history- original and two copies.
  • International birth certificate Form B – (original and two copies).
  • Certificate of the country of residence (original and 2 copies)

What happens after applying for a Swiss visa?

  • Your application for a Switzerland Family Reunion Visa is received by the Swiss representation that further forwards it to the specific cantonal immigration office in Switzerland where the candidate wants to reside.
  • Once the decision is made by the cantonal authorities in Switzerland, they notify the Swiss representation. Then, the further authorization lies in the hands of the Swiss representation. 
  • If they decide to license the visa the Swiss embassy will issue the Swiss Family Reunion Visa.

PR for family members of C permit holders 

C permit holders are eligible to bring their family members to Switzerland under the family reunion program. According to this program, the relatives that can join the C permit holders in the country are spouses or registered partners and children below 18 years of age. Initially, the family members get a B permit. However, they can eventually apply for a C permit after 5 years provided that they meet the requirements. 

Some of these requirements are: 

  • Valid photo ID or passport 
  • Swiss visa (if applicable for non-EU/EFTA nationals)
  • proof stating the relationship to a family member who is living in Switzerland
  • proof that they are financially capable of supporting themselves without the help of Swiss public funds
  • For non-EU/EFTA applicants- proof of language skills in the national language of the canton 

Note: Children below the age of 12 years are eligible for a C permit straightaway. 

The validity of the permits of the family members will be the same as those of the relatives they are joining in Switzerland. 

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What factors can affect your permanent residence rights in Switzerland?

As per the new laws that were regulated in January 2019, the Swiss authorities have the right to downgrade C permit holders to B permit if:

  • The applicant provides false information about some crucial aspects when applying for a C permit.
  • The applicant has a criminal record.
  • The applicant is a threat to national security.
  • The applicant has been accepting social welfare benefits.

What can you do if your application for permanent residence in Switzerland gets rejected?

If the cantonal authorities in Switzerland don’t find your application for a C permit acceptable because you haven’t met the requirements, they can reject your application. However, if you feel that you successfully met the requirements yet got rejected, you can file a complaint through your cantonal immigration office. 

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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