Switzerland is one of many European countries impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic, below are the latest updates by the Swiss government on travel restriction:
General travel restrictions:
As of 24 March, the Federal Council has extended the travel restrictions at the Swiss border to all nationalities (including all EU/EFTA countries). All non-Swiss nationals can only cross the border with:
- Swiss work / residence permit (incl. online notification)
- Business visa C or with a visa D
- Confirmation of the residence permit (Zusicherung von Aufenthaltsbewilligung)
Until 15 June 2020, Switzerland will no longer issue Schengen visas and will only issue national visa in exceptional circumstances, for example to family members of Swiss citizens with the right to reside in the country who require a visa and to specialists in the health care sector.
This has the following impact on the different application types:
Initial applications for non-EU/EFTA nationals (local hire and assignment)
- No visas will be issued until 15 June 2020 and new work permit applications are currently not processed or accepted by the authorities.
- Pending cases: case workers (either cantonal labour market or federal migration office) should give option of keeping the case pending.
- Applications for people already residing in Switzerland (for example conversions, or work permit for dependents with L permit) should still be treated.
- People with a valid visa authorisation, who have not picked up the entry visa, can either check with the relevant Swiss representation if they still issue the entry visa or can apply for an extension of the visa authorisation, if the travel to Switzerland within the current validity is not realistic or feasible.
- Start dates will need to be postponed in most cases, a feasible start date could be 1 August 2020 or even later, depending on processing time
Initial applications for EU/EFTA nationals (local hire)
- Will not be able to cross the border if they are not already in possession of a work permit or online notification
- Online notification: Entry to Switzerland should be possible with an online notification, however, the issuance of online notifications is currently limited to exceptional cases which are of public interest, for example health care
- Cross border permit: Authorities are not issuing new G permits, applications for the change of an employer of an existing G permit should still be possible
- Local registration: Registrations of persons not residing in Switzerland are no longer possible in most cantons (in written form). For persons already residing in Switzerland the registration is still possible in some cantons but not in all. This is not handled consistently at the moment.
- Start dates in Switzerland might need to be postponed
Renewal & conversion from L to B (all nationalities)
- Extensions of work permits can still be submitted and are being processed by the authorities (labour market authorities, cantonal and federal migration authorities). Delays to be expected.
- Renewal of residence permits/ Verfallsanzeige: Renewal forms might be sent out delayed by Federal Migration Office.
- Deloitte recommends: Swiss permit card holders with upcoming expiry of residence permit to individually reach out to community (Gemeinde/ Kreisbüro) to confirm if they will obtain renewal form and how to submit.
- Some communes might only accept emergency queries. Renewal might not be considered as emergency.
- The migration office in ZH confirmed that as of 13 March 2020 delayed renewal applications in Switzerland are not to be sanctioned.
- Re-entry visa for persons not in possession of valid work and residence permit (waiting for initial permit card or extended permit card). For persons currently in Switzerland with travel plans abroad: check with cantonal migration office to obtain a re-entry visa. For persons currently aboard: check with Swiss representation if re-entry visa can be issued.
De-registrations (all nationalities)
De-registrations can usually not be undone (especially once the entry is in the official ZEMIS register), therefore we recommend to de-register with the community office in Switzerland last minute (if possible only once arrived in the destination country. This will minimize the risk in case the trip to the destination country cannot be completed.
Extensions of stay/visa
People stuck in Switzerland who cannot leave the country (medical reasons, travel restrictions, cancelled flights etc.) should request an extension of their stay or their visa at the cantonal migration office. This also applies to persons exceeding their 90 day Schengen stay (with or without visa).
The new travel restrictions will significantly impact travel to Switzerland. It is possible further restrictions may be announced. Employers should account for affected travellers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly. Significant delays may occur for consular and in-country processing.
If you would like to discuss more on this topic, please do reach out to our key contacts below.
Join the upcoming webinar on Swiss global mobility developments around COVID-19 - April 2020