Residence permits in Switzerland during the pandemic: FAQs

Only the French version is authentic.
This English version is intended to make it easier for non-French speakers to understand.

Generally speaking, there are no particular restrictions on residence in Switzerland linked to Covid-19 for foreign persons who are already in Switzerland: applications for permits, renewals, changes of employer or address, in particular, do not call into question their presence in Switzerland.
You may be facing practical difficulties in your administrative procedures due to the pandemic. The points below certainly answer your questions.

Awaiting a reply to a request for a residence permit

I arrived in Switzerland and took up residence in the canton of Vaud. I have asked for a B (or L) permit and I am waiting for the answer.

Whether you come from a European EU/EFTA country or from another country (third country), your presence on our territory is tolerated until the decision of the Population Service (SPOP).

EU/EFTA nationals may start their working life, while third-country nationals have to wait for the decision of the authorities.

List of European Member States of the European Union (EU - UE in french) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA - AELE in french)

Sometimes it is not possible to register your arrival at the commune.

I arrived in Switzerland and took up residence in the canton of Vaud. I would like to announce my arrival at the Population Office of my Commune but its offices are closed.

First of all, check that your commune has not set up an alternative system (virtual counter on its website, telephone line).

If you really can't register your arrival with your commune :

Whether you are from a European EU/EFTA country or another country (third country), your presence on our territory is tolerated until you can formally announce your arrival in the canton of Vaud and until the decision of the Population Service (SPOP).

Lucrative activity (work):

EU/EFTA nationals can start their gainful activity, while third-country nationals have to wait for the decision of the authorities.

List of European Member States of the European Union (EU - UE in french) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA - AELE in french)

Expired residence permit or border permit

My B permit (or C, L or G permit) has expired and I have asked to renew my permit. What can happen if I am asked for my permit?

Your residence status (authorisation to stay in Switzerland or to work as a cross-border commuter) remains valid during the permit renewal procedure.

As long as a decision has not been taken on the renewal of your permit, your stay in the canton of Vaud is legal. If your expired permit allowed you to engage in gainful employment, you may continue to work. 

Be careful, if you leave Switzerland when your permit is no longer formally valid you may encounter difficulties at customs when you return to Switzerland.

Permit Renewal

My B permit (or C, L or G permit) has expired and I cannot apply for the renewal of my permit because the counters of the Population Office of my Commune are closed.

First of all, check that your commune has not set up an alternative system (virtual counter on its website, telephone line).

If you really can't apply for a renewal :

Your residence status (residence permit, permit to settle in Switzerland or to work as a cross-border commuter) remains valid until you have been able to submit your application for renewal of your permit to the Population Office of your Commune. If your permit allowed you to engage in gainful employment, you may continue to work.  

Stay in view of mariage

I have started a marriage procedure and the Civil Registry Office asks me whether my stay is legal, within 60 days, by enquiring at the counters of the Foreigners' Division of the Population Service.

The Foreigners Division counters are now open from 08:00 to 11:30. For this service, you can go to the counters of the Foreigners Division (Av. Beaulieu, Lausanne) to file the civil status application. The Foreigners Division will send you its reply by post at a later date.

Language skills for family reunification

I received a recommendation for integration. This document told me that I had to produce a certificate of knowledge of French at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for the renewal of my B permit obtained through family reunification. However, I was unable to meet this condition because the schools that teach French are currently closed.

When I submit my application to renew my B permit obtained through family reunification, I indicate that I have not yet been able to obtain my certificate of knowledge of French due to the closure of schools because of the coronavirus.

Language skills for permit C

I have requested to obtain my C permit but I cannot present a language knowledge certificate of level A2 oral and A1 written certified FIDE or DELF because the language schools are closed.

The school closures due to the coronavirus do not affect the conditions for obtaining a C permit. The language requirements remain the same.
Your B permit will be renewed (so you won't be left without a permit).

You will be able to reapply for a C permit when you have the language certificate.

Invitation to the Biometrics Centre

I am a national of a third country (which does not have a free movement of persons agreement with Switzerland). Following my request for a B permit (or the renewal of my C permit), the SPOP asks me to go to the Biometrics Centre at Le Flon in Lausanne to register my data.

Please refer to the following website for information on how to access the Biometrics Centre (in french):
https://www.vd.ch/themes/population/documents-didentite/generalites/

In englich:

About the Centre for Biometrics and Identity Documents

Opening hours by appointment only:

  • Monday and Thursday, from 8.00 am to 4.30 pm
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, 8:00 to 12:00.

Make an appointment :

Entry of biometric data for residence permits :
You can make an appointment now

Recommendations related to the health situation :

- If you have symptoms, are ill or have recently been ill, we specifically ask you to reschedule your appointment.

- In order to limit the number of people in the room, please do not bring unnecessary people with you.

- We ask you to pay by debit/credit card and to avoid cash payments.

Cross-border worker

I do not yet have my G (cross-border commuter) permit in hand or I have not yet received its renewal and I have to go to work in Switzerland.

You should send an e-mail to one of the following addresses to obtain proof that you have a G (cross-border worker) permit:

If you are waiting for your first cross-border permit, please contact this address:  etrangers.primo(at)vd.ch 

If it is a renewal, a change of employer or a request for a duplicate : etrangers.production(at)vd.ch

 

 

 

Staying abroad without a residence permit for Switzerland

I have applied for a permit (L, B or C) or I have applied for its renewal and I have not yet received an answer when for an imperative reason I have to travel abroad.

For this service, the counters of the Foreign Division (Av. Beaulieu 19, Lausanne) are now open from 08:00 to 11:30.

Visitor blocked in Switzerland

I am a national of a third country (I do not benefit from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with Switzerland) and I have a Schengen "C" visa for tourism or visits. However, the validity of my visa has expired or is about to expire while I am unable to return to my country (cancellation of air flights).

The procedure to follow:

Send, within 7 working days before the expiry of your visa (authorised stay - séjour autorisé), the documents below to this e-mail address: etrangers.guichets@vd.ch

  • Copy of your passport (identity page)
  • Copy of the Schengen visa
  • Copy of the entry/exit stamps of the last 6 months
  • Proof of travel insurance
  • Proof of inability to travel (closed borders, cancellation of flights, ...)
  • Copy of your web host's ID, address and phone number.

You will then receive a letter by post authorising your stay in Switzerland.

Returning to Switzerland with an expired residence permit

I am currently abroad and am unable to return to Switzerland. I am afraid that the SPOP will find that my permit (B or C) will expire after an absence of 6 months from Switzerland.

You must write an explanatory letter to the Population Service (SPOP) accompanied by proof that you were unable to return to Switzerland within 6 months of your departure.

The administration (the SPOP), will make an exception for the lapse of your licence which will be considered as still valid.

Adress :

Service de la population
Division étrangers
Centre de numérisation
Case postale
1014 Lausanne

Who can enter Switzerland at the moment?

Considering the border controls and restrictions, who can enter Switzerland?

Restrictions on entry into Switzerland at the borders remain in place until at least 15 June.
In principle, the following persons may enter Switzerland subject to the discretion of the border guards:

  • Foreigners already in possession of a residence permit L, B or C or a border permit G ;
  • Foreigners with a legitimation card issued by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs;
  • Foreigners who work in the interests of Switzerland (i.e. in the field of health, supply, urgent maintenance of infrastructure that is important for the interests and functioning of Switzerland) and who have obtained a "C" Schengen or "D" national visa for nationals of third countries or a residence permit insurance or confirmation of registration for EU/EFTA nationals, or even an electronic confirmation (print SYMIC) for EU/EFTA cross-border commuters;
  • EU/EFTA nationals who had submitted an application before 25 March 2020 and whose application has been reactivated and processed by issuing a Residence Permit Insurance or a confirmation of announcement for EU/EFTA nationals, or a computer confirmation (print SYMIC) for EU/EFTA cross-border commuters;
  • Nationals of third countries who had been accepted by the cantonal and federal authorities for the exercise of an activity before 19 March 2020 and who have obtained a national "D" visa to enter Switzerland;
  • Foreigners who report a situation of absolute necessity (following the death of a family member, urgent assistance to a family member, continuation of heavy medical treatment undertaken in Switzerland, right of access to a child by a parent domiciled in Switzerland, following a judicial summons, etc.) and who have obtained a "C" Schengen or "D" national visa for nationals of third countries or a Residence Permit Insurance for EU/EFTA nationals ;
  • Foreigners who wish to enter Switzerland for a situation of absolute necessity but who do not wish to settle in Switzerland and require a residence permit (stay not exceeding 3 months) must submit an application for a laissez-passer to the following e-mail address:  corona(at)sem.admin.ch
  • For family reunification, i.e. only with a Swiss national or an EU/EFTA national who has a residence permit in Switzerland and who has obtained a "C" Schengen or "D" national visa for nationals of third countries or a residence permit insurance for EU/EFTA nationals;

 

 

    Residence Permit Insurance (AAS)

    What is a "residence permit insurance" (in french, "Assurance d'autorisation de séjour", AAS)? How do I apply for it?

    During the measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, EU and EFTA nationals who may enter Switzerland for residence must have a "Residence Permit Insurance" (AAS) when crossing the border.

    The application must be submitted to the future commune of residence or place of employment by the person responsible in Switzerland (employer, spouse, etc.).

    Information on how to access the communes should be obtained from their websites or by telephone.  

    The commune will forward the file to the Population Service (SPOP), which will process the application. The SPOP is, in fact, the authority responsible for issuing residence permit insurance.

    The SPOP will contact the applicant in Switzerland to inform him/her of its decision and possibly send him/her the requested assurance of residence permit.

    NB: At the border, customs retains discretion over entry into Swiss territory and may, regardless of the reason for residence in Switzerland, refuse entry at its discretion.

    Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

    Obligation to leave Switzerland complicated by the lack of air links

    The SPOP (or the State Secretariat for Migration, SEM) gave me a deadline to leave Switzerland but I am not able to respect it because air traffic is interrupted.

    You have to write to the Service de la population (SPOP) with proof of the cancellation of your flight (or flights) and ask for a new departure date.

    Adress :

    Service de la population
    Division étrangers
    Centre de numérisation
    Case postale
    1014 Lausanne

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