I live and work in Switzerland, can my partner come join me?
Home > Swiss Residency > Residence permits > For all others > Other > Marriage > How to be joined by my fiancé(e) in Switzerland

The right to family reunification exists for foreigners living in Switzerland. However, this right is only granted to married couples. Unmarried cohabitants do not in principle have rights. Whether you are the holder of a Swiss passport, a permanent establishment permit or an authorization for residence, the law remains unchanged: your partner cannot obtain a residence permit simply due to the fact that he/she is your partner. However, in practice, there is a certain degree of flexibility. We will now provide you with an outline of the different possibilities for being joined by your partner in Switzerland.

A. Tourism
This is the simplest solution, but also the most limiting. It does not require any special authorization. As a tourist, your partner may reside in Switzerland for six months per year, with each stay not exceeding three months. Your partner does not have the right to work. He/she must report to the Aliens Police following a six-month period. As someone providing lodging, you must announce his or her presence to the local police following a one-month period.

You require a visa to enter Switzerland from certain countries. Prior to receiving his/her visa, an inquiry will be conducted on your partner to ensure that he/she has the financial resources to live in Switzerland and that he/she will not stay beyond the allotted timeframe. Each case is decided individually. If the professional or economic situation of your partner in his/her home country does not offer the required guarantees, you may invite your partner over to Switzerland. In other words, you will assume the living expenses, accident and sickness costs, as well as the cost of the forced return if your partner does not return to his or her country by the end of the visa’s period of validity. If you possess a B permit or a C permit, you can prepare a letter of invitation. The form must be requested from the Swiss diplomatic representative of your partner’s country. Your partner must complete the top portion of the form and send you the document. You must complete the bottom portion of the form and take it to the Aliens Police in your municipality or canton of residence. This invitation letter is in effect a statement of debt in the amount of 20,000 Swiss francs, for which you assume the guarantee. In order to verify your solvency, you are required to present the following documents:

  • Identity document or official record book for foreigners
  • ODP record (Office des poursuites)
  • Statement of salary
  • Bank statements
  • Tax receipts

The Aliens Police may consult the ODP and taxation registry, as well as your police record. You must, by the same token, pay an administrative fee of 30 francs. These documents will be sent to the Cantonal Aliens Police who will decide on your ability as a guarantor. During this stage, additional information regarding the person you are inviting may be requested of you. Then all there is left to do is wait. Within three weeks to a month, a notice will be sent by diplomatic mail service to the Swiss representative in your partner’s country. Your partner will be informed of the final decision by telephone or by mail. If the visa application has been accepted, it will usually be implemented immediately. If the application has been denied, you may appeal by requesting a formal decision from the Swiss Federal Aliens Office.

An application can be denied if:

  • Your partner is a threat to public security and policy of Switzerland
  • Your partner has ever been denied entry or deported
  • Your partner did not present all the required documents requested during the inquiry or he/she submitted inaccurate information or false documents
  • There are doubts regarding the identity of your partner or the purpose of his/her stay.

You must report to the Aliens Police in your municipality of residence and sign a statement of guarantee in the amount of 20,000 Swiss francs. If you believe that you will not meet the conditions to act as guarantor, you can always try to ask a close relative to meet the conditions in your place. However, do not forget to inform this person that in such a case, he/she will be responsible for the amount of 20,000 francs. To limit the risks, due namely to an unexpected hospitalization or repatriation by private air ambulance, it is strongly recommended that you take out insurance in Switzerland to cover the length of stay.

In Switzerland, the only company offering unlimited repatriation insurance coverage is:
S.O.S. Evasan
C.P. 1099
1211 Geneva 5AF
Tel.     022 929 52 51
Fax.     022 929 52 55
e-mail.     evasan@bluewin.ch

B. Finding work
If your partner wishes to work in Switzerland, you can try to find him/her employment. The new employer may then request authorization for residence from the Cantonal Aliens Office so that your partner may be brought over to work. However, few employers are ready to carry out these administrative procedures and, most of the time, they only hire people who already have a valid permit. Moreover, it is not certain that the employer’s application will be accepted by the Cantonal Office of the Swiss Population. If your partner is a qualified worker, the employer must prove that he or she cannot find anyone in Switzerland with the same skills. If your partner is seeking a position that does not require qualifications, the Cantonal Office may grant him/her a seasonal permit. As there are, however, quotas on these permits, the number of positions available is limited.

C. Studying
Your partner may obtain a residence permit if he/she enrolls at a university or college. If this option interests you, please consult the section “How to study in Switzerland as a foreigner”.

D. Pleading “just causes”
If your partner neither wishes to work nor study in Switzerland, you can always try to plead “just causes” to the Cantonal Aliens Office. Although unmarried cohabitants are not legally entitled to family reunification rights, there are in fact certain exceptions. The conditions are rather restrictive and the situations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It is possible to obtain a permit if you have already been with your partner for a very long time and you can explain why the both of you do not wish to marry. For example, if a previous divorce was not recognized in your home country, but it has been recognized in Switzerland, your application may possibly be approved. A severe humanitarian case may also be pleaded, although the conditions are also very restrictive. Pregnancy, for example, is not viewed as a severe humanitarian case.

E. Marrying
If you are a holder of a permanent establishment permit (C permit) or you will soon receive one, your spouse will have the right to join you. For the first five years, he/she will benefit from a residence permit, followed by a permanent establishment permit. This right to family reunification has been set down in several international treaties signed by Switzerland. On the other hand, if you are the holder of a residence permit (B permit), it is not assured that your wife/husband will be able to join you. The Aliens Office may give authorization for residence to your wife/husband and to your children or authorization may be denied. In this case, it is not a right. The decision criteria are fairly broad and the Cantonal Aliens Office processes the files on a case-by-case basis. In practice, if your financial situation is stable and your living accommodations are large enough, the application will normally be approved. However, applications submitted by holders of seasonal permits (A permit), work placement trainees, students or curists are not, as a general rule, taken into account.

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