Residence and work permits

The SDBB's “Factsheet 205 Migration” contains detailed information indicating which residence permits entitle young people to enrol in vocational education and training in Switzerland.

Foreign nationals who wish to work in Switzerland need a residence permit and – if they do not come from one of the Member States of the European Union (EU-17) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – a work permit. The type of permit depends on the duration and type of gainful employment in Switzerland. Prerequisites for each residence and work permit vary.

Young people who have been living in Switzerland without a residence permit may obtain a temporary residence permit (Ordinance of 24 October 2007 on Admission, Period of Stay and Employment, ASEO, SR 142.201) for the duration of their apprenticeship if the following conditions are met:

  • The young person has attended school in Switzerland for at least 5 years.
  • The application must be submitted within 12 months of completing compulsory education.
  • There is an application from an employer who wishes to hire the person concerned.
  • The young person is well integrated in Switzerland and complies with the Swiss legal system.
  • The young person must disclose his or her identity.

The employer must submit an application to the canton indicating the desire to hire the person as an apprentice. Doing so does not expose employers to prosecution. The young person must also submit an application for a residence permit to the competent cantonal authority. If the decision is favourable, the application will be forwarded to the State Secretariat for Migration, which will issue a residence permit for hardship cases. Employers must keep the apprenticeship position open until a decision has been reached on the application. Once the apprenticeship has been completed, the competent cantonal authorities will decide whether the person can remain in Switzerland.

Young professionals who would like to expand their professional and linguistic skills through a temporary traineeship in Switzerland will receive a work permit for a maximum of 18 months. Switzerland has concluded traineeship agreements with the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine, USA. Nationals holding vocational qualifications or a university degrees are admitted.