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I am currently living in Germany as a Croatian national. In a few short months I will start my higher education in Switzerland and later MBA as well which total duration will be more then 4 years. I can also speak a little bit of Schwiizerdütsch. I know there are some problems with Croats seeking to live and apply for a job in Switzerland. So basically my question is: If I am a student in Switzerland can i apply for a one-year visa to work and live there and later extend it?

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You may in any case apply for a permit, even to look for work or set up a business. The main issue is that, as a Croatian national, you are not (yet) covered by the EU freedom of movement agreement with Switzerland. That means more paperwork and time lost before being allowed to work than you would have experienced in Germany for example.

For workers, a prospective employer would have to show they could not find the employee they need locally (Swiss residents, no matter their citizenship), which could make it quite difficult for most people to qualify. The delay and increased paperwork make Croatian workers less attractive to employers (much easier for them to just hire a German or Romanian national for example). There is an annual quota for both long-term and short-term permits as well.

For students, the rules are less restrictive. I believe you might be asked to show you have “sufficient” financial means to cover your expenses in Switzerland. There is no annual quota. I would still recommend approaching the Swiss authorities as soon as possible (i.e. as soon as you have some registration confirmation from the university) to see how you can apply for a permit. If at all possible, applying early would prevent getting stuck waiting for a decision. Another effect of the current restrictions is that you are more limited than other EU citizens when it comes to working next to your studies.

Note that these restrictions are slated to end between 2024 (no restriction but still a “safeguard clause” that can be triggered if the number of Croatian nationals exceeds a threshold) and 2027 (full freedom of movement). Consequently, renewing your permit and eventually finding a job in Switzerland — if you want to do that — should be easier when your four-year programme ends.

Factsheet on these rules from the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration

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  • Many thanks for your answer.I just remembered something. A guy that i used to know he is about 27-28 years old Croatian national also lived in Germany till recently, without higher school education, german language also not so good,swissgerman aswell,english also not so good, and somehow he found a job in Sankt Gallen and he moved there and he is already for a year working there without any problems. how is this possible?? thanks in advance – Jake Apr 2 at 9:22
  • And first thing next week ill head to the Migration office, try and apply for getting the permit. I already have an registration confirmation from the Uni. It was so helpfull from you:) merci villmals. – Jake Apr 2 at 9:27
  • @Jake It's always possible, it's just that the requirements are a little higher (while still lower than for non-EU citizens). You mostly need an employer that is ready to jump through hoops. In particular, I think you have to publish a job posting and wait some time to show you are not getting suitable candidates. The main hurdle is that it's not worth the trouble for an employer if they can actually find someone else in Switzerland or elsewhere in Europe. Maybe he got some qualification that helped? Imagine he needs to speak Croat for some reason, would be very easy to justify a visa. – Relaxed Apr 2 at 11:40
  • Well lets hope it will be possible for me aswell.i dont think he will need a Croatian language while driving the truck in Switzerland:)haha...it would be a bigger probability for me needing a Croatian language for Croatian or Serbian customers, as im a Real estate student. I mean im 23 almost 24 can speak 5 languages,even have a girlfriend in Switzerland with Swiss pass as i live near the border and i cant find something... – Jake Apr 2 at 13:24

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