Swiss Family Reunification Visa: Everything You Need to Know About Moving to Switzerland
If you are considering immigrating to Switzerland, it’s important to learn about the many different immigration categories that may be available to you. The most common way of immigrating to Switzerland is through the family reunification visa category, which makes up more than half of all Swiss immigration permits issued each year.
If you are planning to immigrate to Switzerland with your family, then you’re most likely aware of the immigration process and the many steps involved in it. First, you need to apply for immigration and get your Swiss visa, which will allow you to enter the country and stay there as long as it’s valid. Then, if you have decided that Switzerland is where you want to make your home, then you will have to apply for a Family Reunification Visa that will allow your family members to move there with you after they arrive in Switzerland.
Many families around the world are separated due to hard work, immigration, or other reasons that make it impossible to stay together in one country. The Family Reunification Visa in Switzerland is intended to ensure that the families of Swiss citizens and permanent residents can live together without being separated by long distances, among other things.
However, it’s important to understand the application process because this visa could be your only way to live with your family in the country, especially if you are not eligible for any other residence permit. This article contains everything you need to know about the Family Reunification Visa in Switzerland, including which documents you must submit as part of your application and how long it will take for you to receive your decision from the government. This guide will help answer all your questions about the family reunification visa in Switzerland and help you navigate this immigration process with ease.
An Introduction to Swiss Family Reunification Visa
Family reunification in Switzerland is possible if the family member living in Switzerland has the necessary residence rights. However, the process is slightly different depending on where you are from. You may need a family visa to join a relative or spouse in Switzerland. This is known as the Swiss Family Reunification Visa or Family Reunion Visa. The Swiss family reunification visa permits foreign nationals who are married to or in a registered partnership with a Swiss national or are the direct descendants of a Swiss national, to live and work in Switzerland.
Who Needs a Family Visa to Move to Switzerland?
Even though Switzerland is not part of the European Union (EU), it does form part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) together with Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. EU and EFTA countries have reciprocal rights, one of which is visa-free travel between the countries. As a result, EU/EFTA citizens can move to Switzerland to join family members without having to apply for a visa. However, they will need to apply for a Swiss residence permit if they are staying for over three months.
On the other hand, third-country nationals from outside the EU/EFTA need a family visa to join relatives in Switzerland.
Swiss family visa to join family members with permanent residence in Switzerland
A foreign national who has lived in Switzerland for at least ten consecutive years are eligible to obtain Swiss permanent residence (Permit C). The holder of a permanent residence permit enjoys a lot of the same benefits as a Swiss citizen. They can work anywhere and for whatever employer they want, and are free to live anywhere in Switzerland they choose to. They are also allowed to bring their third-country family members (spouse/registered partner or children under 18 years of age) to live with them. Family members from non-EU/EFTA countries will have to apply for a visa to join relatives in Switzerland.
Family members can stay in Switzerland for as long as the relative they are joining is a Swiss resident. If you are staying in Switzerland long-term, you will have to get a Swiss residence permit. This will be a B permit, which you can exchange for a C permit if you live in Switzerland for five uninterrupted years. Children under 12 receive a C permit immediately.
Family members can work or study in Switzerland but must register with the cantonal immigration and labor market authorities first. If they are not working, they can only access social security and welfare services through the health insurance policy of the relative they have come to join. This needs to have coverage that extends to additional dependent family members.
How to apply as a family member of a Swiss permanent resident?
The spouse/partner or child who is joining their relative in Switzerland needs to make the application through the Swiss embassy or consulate in their home country if applying from outside Switzerland, or through the local cantonal immigration authority if applying within Switzerland. They must first make an appointment before going in to apply in person and submit all the necessary documents.
After they arrive in Switzerland, they have to go to the cantonal immigration and labor market authorities and receive their respective residence permits. They must have the following documents with them:
- Valid photo ID such as a passport
- Certificate from their home country proving the nature of the relationship, e.g., marriage certificate or birth certificate
- A letter that confirms that you will support any dependents financially. The letter must be from the authorities in the country of origin.
Swiss family reunion visa to join family members with temporary residence
The Swiss B and L permits are short-term (temporary) residence permits that allow the holder to move to Switzerland. They are issued for one year, but the B Permit can be renewed annually, while the L permit can only be renewed once.
This permit does not grant the holder the automatic right to be joined by family members under family reunification in Switzerland. However, the cantonal migration authorities may allow it if you can prove that you have enough living space for the entire family to live together. You will also need to show that you can support everyone financially if you are self-employed or not working in Switzerland.
You’ll need to contact the local cantonal authorities in the first instance. If approved, you will be able to bring your spouse/registered partner and any dependent children under 18.
Family visa to join EU/EFTA nationals living in Switzerland
If you are an EU/EFTA citizen who is living in Switzerland, you can bring your family members to live with you.
The following relatives can apply for family reunification in Switzerland:
- Spouse or registered partner
- Children or grandchildren aged under 21, or older if they can support themselves financially
- Parents and grandparents if they can support themselves financially
- If you are an EU/EFTA citizen in Switzerland on a study visa, you can only be joined by your spouse and dependent children.
Family members can stay in Switzerland for as long as the EU/EFTA relative they are joining is a Swiss resident. If you are staying in Switzerland long-term, you will have to get a Swiss residence permit.
Spouses/registered partners and children of EU/EFTA relatives can work and study in Switzerland on a family visa. However, access to social welfare depends on the employment situation of the relative you are joining.
Meanwhile, the application process and requirements apply the same as the Swiss Family Reunion Visa for family members of non-EU/EFTA nationals
The family reunification visa process in Switzerland can be long and complicated. However, it is possible to successfully navigate the process with the help of an experienced immigration lawyer. If you are considering applying for a family reunification visa in Switzerland, contact a qualified immigration attorney today. Visit the official website of the Swiss immigration authority for more information.