Switzerland is not an official part of the European Union (EU), and all international students require a student visa in order to study in Switzerland. There are different processes and levels of complexity in applying for a Swiss residence permit, depending on if you are an EU/EFTA national or not. No matter your citizenship or residency, you are able to apply for a Swiss student visa! Once you’ve applied and been accepted into your study program, you can follow the residence permit application process below that is relevant to your citizenship.
If you are an EU/EFTA national, once you’ve arrived in Switzerland you must visit your local cantonal authority to register for a residence permit as a non-working person. Don’t forget! You must complete this process within 14 days of your arrival in Switzerland. Your residence permit will be valid for the duration of your studies, or for one year, in which case you can renew your permit as long as you continue to fulfill the requirements.
Check with your local cantonal authority to confirm the documentation they require to make your application, but in general you should bring:
- Residence permit application completed;
- A valid passport and/or identity card;
- Confirmation that you have been accepted to a recognized Swiss higher education institution;
- A guarantee of sufficient financial resources to support yourself during your studies (e.g. bank statement); and
- A valid health insurance policy that includes accident coverage.
Students that do not have EU/EFTA nationality must contact the Swiss embassy or consulate in their home country to apply for a visa, and receive approval for the permit prior to entering the country to study. You will be applying for a student visa as a non-EU/EFTA national without gainful employment.
The visa documentation required for studying as a non-EU/EFTA nationals includes:
- proof of adequate financial resources to cover the cost of living in Switzerland during the course of your study;
- a health insurance policy that includes accident coverage;
- a study plan explaining the general purpose of your studies;
- a confirmation that you have been admitted to a higher education institution recognised by the Swiss government;
- Proof that the personal and educational requirements for your study program are fulfilled;
- a letter of motivation, your CV and an information sheet detailing your language skills;
- proof that you have appropriate accommodation; and
- a confirmation that you will leave Switzerland at the end of your studies.
The Swiss government advises that it can take up to 8 weeks to get your student visa application processed, so start getting your documents together as soon as possible! Contact your local Swiss embassy or consulate today to get the process started.