If you are living in Switzerland, depending on your residential status, you may be eligible to bring your family members to live with you. This is possible due to the Switzerland Family Reunion visa.
What are the Requirements for the Switzerland Family Reunion Visa?
Before foreign nationals enter Switzerland to get their residence permits, they must first apply for a Switzerland Family reunion visa in their country. The application is submitted at the Swiss embassy/consulate, after an appointment has been made.
The documents applicants have to provide when applying for a Swiss family reunion visa are:
- Three completed and signed application forms in either German, French, Italian, Spanish or English.
- The application form can be downloaded online or found at the Swiss embassy/consulate where you apply, depending on the country.
- Valid passport/travel document, issued in the past ten years.
- Three copies of all the relevant pages on their passport: pages 1-4 and the last page, pages showing the issue and expiry date, all pages showing previous visas.
- Four recent (last six months) biometric passport-sized pictures.
- For spouse: International marriage certificate Form B (the original and 2 copies).
- For children: Recognition certificate and/or authorization of their legal representatives (the original and 2 copies for each). The document/s must be legalized by a notary.
- Three copies of the Swiss residence permit, passport, or identity card of the spouse/partner living in Switzerland.
- A detailed extract of the personal registration certificate (the original and 2 copies).
- It must also be translated in one of Switzerland’s official languages.
- An extract of the applicant’s criminal record (original and 2 copies).
- It must also be translated in one of Switzerland’s official languages.
- International birth certificate Form B (original and 2 copies).
- Certificate of domicile (original and 2 copies)
Keep in mind that different countries may require additional documents and that the Swiss authorities reserve the right to ask for more documents as they see fit.
After the applicant submits their Switzerland Family Reunion Visa, the Swiss representation forwards it to the cantonal immigration office in Switzerland where the applicant wants to live. After the competent authorities in Switzerland make a decision, they inform the Swiss representation. If they decided to authorize the visa, only then the Swiss embassy/consulate will issue the Swiss Family Reunion Visa.
Language requirements for a Switzerland Family visa
Because of a new package of legislative amendments which came into effect January 2019, when your family members apply for their Swiss residence permit, the authorities may ask them to sign a cultural integration agreement and show a certain level of language skill.
For family reunification, the applicants can be asked to show that they the oral language skills of level A1 (Beginner). If they do not, they must show they have registered for a language course which will allow them to reach this level.
This is not applicable to family members of Permit L holders.
Switzerland Family Reunion Visa for family members of permanent residence holders
A foreign national who has lived in Switzerland for at least ten consecutive years is 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.
How to apply as a family member of a Swiss permanent resident?
The application method may differ slightly depending on the nationality of your family members.
If someone wants to stay in Switzerland for longer than three months, they need to have a residence permit. But, in most cases, the residence permit application is done after someone is in Switzerland. So, most foreign nationals also need to have a long-stay (national) Swiss visa to be allowed entry in Switzerland in the first place.
Long-stay visas are issued based on the purpose of travel. So, if your family members want to come to live with you, the type of long-stay visa they need to apply for is the Switzerland Family Reunion Visa.
They must apply for the Swiss family reunion visa in the Swiss consulate or embassy in their country. They must first make an appointment before going in to apply in person and submit all the necessary documents.
What document do the family members have to provide?
After they arrive in Switzerland, they have to go to the cantonal immigration and labour market authorities and receive their respective residence permits. They must have the following documents with them:
- Their valid passport/travel ID
- Spouse/partner: Their marriage certificate
- Children: Their birth certificates
- A letter which confirms that you will support any dependants financially. The letter must be from the authorities in the country of origin.
Getting the residence permit
Your spouse or registered partner and any children aged 12-18 will receive a B Permit with the same validity as your settlement permit. They can also work, but need to register with the cantonal immigration and labour market authorities.
Children under 12 will receive a settlement permit (Permit C).
Your spouse/registered partner and children 12-18 can get their settlement permits (Permit C) after they have lived in Switzerland for five consecutive years.
Switzerland Family Reunion Visa for family members of temporary residence holders
The Permit L and Permit B are temporary. They are issued for one year, but the B Permit can be renewed annually, while the L permit can only be renewed once.
So, if you are a temporary permit holder, you need authorisation from the cantonal immigration offices to be allowed to bring your family members with you. You must be able to fulfill certain conditions to be eligible, such as:
- Have enough space in your apartment/home so everyone can live together.
- Have enough financial means to support any dependents.
How to apply as a member of a Swiss temporary resident?
Just as with the family members of C Permits (see above), your family members must also apply for a long-stay visa for family reunion at the Swiss embassy/consulate of their country of residence.
This procedure is the same: they make an appointment at the Swiss embassy/consulate, submit the required documents in person, and pay the visa fees.
However, you need to contact the local cantonal authorities beforehand to see whether they will authorize you to bring your family members to live with you.
If they do, after your family members come to Switzerland, they have to register at the cantonal immigration and labour market authorities and get their residence permits. They will be issued the same residence permit as you.
Switzerland Family Reunion Visa for family members of EU/EFTA citizens
If you are an EU/EFTA citizen who is living in Switzerland, you can bring your family members to live with you. However, you have to prove that you can:
- Comfortably accommodate them into your apartment/house.
- Financially support them.
EU/EFTA citizens can invite the following family members to live with them in Switzerland:
- Spouse or registered partner
- Children and grandchildren under 21
- Parents and grandparents
- In case they need financial support, you have to provide proof of it before they enter Switzerland.
However, if you are in Switzerland as a student, you can only bring your spouse and dependant children.
Depending on the nationality of your family member, the same Switzerland Family Reunion Visa application requirements and process apply as for family members of non-EU/EFTA nationals.