If you’re a student who wants to study in Switzerland but is not quite sure what you need to do to be prepared, read on.

Since Switzerland is a part of the Schengen zone, a Schengen visa will win you the right to go to the country, but if you want to stay there as a student you must take a few more steps. The procedures are different for EU/EFTA and non-EU/EFTA students.

EU/EFTA Resident Students

Are you an EU/EFTA resident? In that case, you won’t need a visa. You will only need to register with their local authorities in the town you are staying in within 14 days of arriving in Switzerland. That’s where you will get a residence permit.

The applicant must prove that they have come to Switzerland to study and that they are enrolled at a university. For this, they will need a certificate from the school or institution. They also must prove that they have health insurance and can cover their living costs during their stay. The residence permit is usually issued for the duration of the program, but depending on the student’s situation, it might be issued yearly.

Students can hold jobs but for no more than 15 hours a week, otherwise, they must apply for a work permit. The student’s family (spouse and children) can join the student in Switzerland, but the student has to show they have enough resources to accommodate them.

Switzerland Visa for Non-EU/EFTA

As for non-EU/EFTA member states students, they must apply for a visa at the Swiss embassy or consulate in their home country. The application must include a few documents.

  • A certificate from the school or institution to be attended,
  • Proof of payment of school fees and means of support during studies,
  • A written commitment that you will leave Switzerland upon completion of the program,
  • Your CV

Swiss authorities may also organize a language test to make sure the student is able to follow lessons.

Afterward, you will need to apply for a saying permit. The cantons are responsible for issuing permits.

What Type of Visa Do I Need?

what-type-of-visa-do-i-needDepending on the duration of your studies there are two types of visas which you can apply for.

  • C Visa –  is a short-time visa that allows its keeper to reside in Switzerland for a short period of time. This visa is perfect for summer schools, seminars, and language schools that last up to three months.
  • D Visa – is a long-time visa for people looking to study, work, or reside in Switzerland. International students are granted a Schengen visa for a period of one year with the possibility of extension.

Swiss Visa Appointment

Where do I apply?

The first step, after getting the acceptance letter from your university, should be setting an appointment with the Swiss embassy or consulate in your area. These procedures take time, so make sure to set the appointment 6 months prior to your studying. The processing time for the short stay visas is around 10-15 days and for long-stay visas, eight to ten weeks

Your documents will need to be in French, German, or English. If they are not that language, you will need a certified translation of those documents.

Switzerland Student Visa Requirements

Applying for a visa can be a bureaucratic and tiring experience.

  • Application for a long-stay visa (visa D) – three forms, filled and signed
  • Four passport-size photographs
  • Passport – valid three months beyond the planned stay
  • Letter of acceptance issued by a Swiss university
  • Proof of payment of the registration and tuition fees – original and copy
  • Proof of sufficient financial coverage of living costs in Switzerland for the duration of schooling (21,000 CHF or 19,200 EUR at the beginning of each year of your studies)
  • Scholarship/Loan proof – Letter of an institution that all expenses for the study will be covered by the scholarship or loan
  • CV
  • Letter of motivation
  • Commitment to leave Switzerland on completion of studies

Younger than 18

If you’re younger than 18 when you’re applying for a Switzerland Visa, then you’ll be needing a few additional documents, such as:

  • Birth certificate of the minor
  • Application form (signed by both parents)
  • Certified ID/passport copies of both parents

If you’re traveling with another person besides your parents, you’ll also be needing:

  • Accompanying person’s passport page (original and copy)
  • A notarized parental authorization that allows you to travel to Switzerland (signed by both parents) 

In cases where only one parent has full custody, then you’ll also be needing a family court order.

 Language requirements

You won’t be required to provide language proof for a Swiss visa. However, the universities you’ll be applying to will require language proficiency proof for foreign students in Switzerland, which is usually enough for the Swiss embassy.

Some of the most known English language tests that Swiss universities accept are:

  • IELTS Academic
  • PTE Academic

There may be cases when the embassy wants to evaluate your language, and they can do that through a short interview or written and oral tests. After that, the Swiss representation sends your entry application along with your documents and language proficiency assessments to the Canton Migration Authorities for approval.

Visa Cost

The visa cost may vary depending on your country of origin; however, the prices don’t have a vast difference between countries. When you’re applying for a Swiss visa, you’ll have to pay a fee of 50 to 100 CHF to your Swiss embassy or consulate.

When You Arrive in Switzerland

when-arriving-in-switzerlandNow that you’ve resided in Switzerland, a new adventure awaits, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it. However, there are still a few things left for you to do in order to continue your stay.

How to get a residence permit in Switzerland?

After arriving in Switzerland, you have 14 days to register at your cantonal migration office. If you’ve acquired a long-stay category D visa, then you’ll also need to apply for a residence permit at your cantonal migration office. You should do this within the first 90 days of your stay, and you’ll need to provide your ID, Swiss visa details, and proof of Swiss address. 

A successful application will result in a B residence permit, valid for only a year, but you can renew it multiple times. This may take a few weeks to arrive, and you’re not allowed to leave the country during this period.

Besides enjoying a night out, other things you can sort during this time are registering for health insurance and opening up a Swiss bank account.

Switzerland immigration policy

Being one of the countries with the highest number of immigrants in the west has raised many political debates in recent years, with Switzerland having to limit EU migration and introduce stricter conditions to get residence permits.

Right now, European Union (EU) citizens and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) nations can freely travel to Switzerland; however, they need to meet certain criteria in order to stay. Usually, citizens of these countries have to apply for a visa to come to Switzerland, as well as apply for a residence permit to stay for more extended periods.

Moreover, Switzerland is one of the 26 Schengen Area countries that allow passport-free travel between countries.

After Study Finishes and Visa Expires

You’ve completed your studies, but you love Switzerland so much that you don’t want to leave? No worries, you can extend your residency permit for six more months to look for a full-time job. During this period, you’re allowed to work for 15 hours a week. To apply, all you have to do is provide your cantonal migration office with the following documents:

  • Certificate/proof that you’ve finished your courses
  • Evidence you can financially support yourself
  • Evidence that you can live somewhere suitable

You can also apply to extend your residence permit if you want to continue to study in Switzerland for postgraduate studies, but you must have an official offer. The maximum extension period, in this case, is two years.

Work and Study

Working while studying is an option for many foreign students in Switzerland. While some universities don’t recommend that as it can be distracting and affect your academic work. Other schools facilitate job searches with job boards and other advisory services.

  • The working hours for students are limited during the school year and there are a few requirements that you fulfill.
  • International students can work up to 15 hours a week
  • During semester holidays international students can work up to 100%.
  • Students from outside the EU/EFTA countries may start working only 6 months after starting their degree program.

There you go—the steps of obtaining a student visa in Switzerland. Good luck!

    1. Hi Khurshad,

      The application process and admission requirements change from one university to the other. We would advise you to decide on a university fist and then see what are their admission requirements.

      Good luck!

  1. what kind of visa do i need if i am to study for four years under scholarship and wish to come with my family

    1. Hi Joy,

      What country are you from?
      We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

      Best wishes.

  2. Hello,

    Currently I am planning to start studying in Switzerland in September. However, in France (the country that I live in), the applications for student visa are not accepted and I do not know when they will start accepting them. But, I was planning to visit South Korea during summer and it seems like they are accepting student visa applications starting from beginning of June. In this case, would it be possible to submit my student visa application in Korea and then receive the visa once I come back to France?

    Thank you and I will be waiting for your reply.

  3. Is there any way around the :

    Proof of sufficient financial coverage of living costs in Switzerland for the duration of schooling (21,000 CHF or 19,200 EUR at the beginning of each year of your studies)

    My schooling will be paid by scholarship, and should allow about 5,000 extra. Does that mean that I still have to show proof of 15,000 more (give or take of course).

    Can future earnings be included?

    I’m from a poor family in Peru, and 21,000CHF is more than my entire family makes in a year. I have the resourse to survive, but what is the least that I can prove to the government?

  4. Hello,

    I’ll be studying for 18months, to commence in February 2021.
    My Passport expires in June 2022. Can I still apply for the visa and renew my passport when it is close to expiration, considering that my passport won’t expire until two years time?

  5. I’m a Chinese national and currently residing in Ireland. May I know if I can join a part time Mba course in Switzerland? what type of visa would I need to apply? Thank you!

  6. Can I travel around Europe with my Swiss student visa? Let’s say during semester break, I’d like to travel to France.

  7. If i give a commitment of leaving Swiss upon completion of my studies, what happens in case i secure a job offer?

  8. Hi. Will the proof of sufficient financial coverage be blocked during my stay in Switzerland? Or am I able to use it once the visa is accepted?

  9. I am from Ukraine. Can I apply for either short-term or long-term student visa from other country than Ukraine? With providing a proof of legally staying there of course.

  10. I live in Italy but I am a US citizen applying to a university in Switzerland. If I get accepted to the Swiss university, can I apply for Swiss visa at a Swiss embassy in Italy, or do I absolutely have to travel back to the USA to apply for the visa there?

  11. I’ve been accepted to grad school in Geneva. I’ve heard there are age restrictions for students 30 and over when applying for a visa. I’m currently 30 going on 31 soon. Is anyone familiar with this or know if it’s possible to be approved for a student visa beyond 30? Thank you!

  12. hello,
    My passport expires 2023 and yet my studies have to run for 3 years starting 2021. will that be a problem in any wat for me?? is renewing during the studies acceptable?
    i’m Ugandan.

  13. Hello, I would like to know more about students Visa Requirements, I came from Kuwait and I would like to study in Zurich. What is the minimum German level that you require to be able to obtain the Visa. Regarding the Locked account, am I able to use a German Locked account that has an equivalent to 22,000 CHF?. Is the preparation year required for students who have a Highschool degree from Kuwait?. Thanks

  14. Our family wish to place our 9-year-little girl in one of Swiss boarding school. We are Chinese Citizen, and now we hold Portugal golden visa, does my daughter need to apply for a Swiss student visa? Besides, can my husband and I accompany her in Switzerland.

  15. Hi I have already applied for a university call FHNW. This University is not asking for Language test like IELTS as my PG was in English so should I write IELTS for the Visa?? Please help me with this information

  16. Hello, I live in India
    I am planning to study in Switzerland so do we need any language test certificates, for instance, IELTS, Pte, or Tofel?

  17. What are international students supposed to do before working? Where’d they stay without money and what would they eat for those months without working ?

  18. What is the student visa ratio or success rate for Switzerland? Also, can study gap be an issue, especially when after completing your studies you haven’t done anything for one year?

  19. I am planning to study in Switzerland and being an international student from outside the EU/ EEA, I wish to know if I might work while studying (before the said 6 months of stay) and under which circumstances?

  20. I am from India and will be going to Switzerland for my Postdoctoral research. What kind of Visa should I apply for? Do I need a language proficiency certificate for the Visa application

  21. Hello , in relation to this the student visa .

    Concerning this particular point , ( Proof of sufficient financial coverage of living costs in Switzerland for the duration of schooling (21,000 CHF or 19,200 EUR at the beginning of each year of your studies))

    Does the Embassy have specific banks in Ghana that you will be required to have an account with and show a proof of sufficient fund ?

  22. I’m interested to study in switzerland. Can you suggest me the best university for tourism education.How can i get started??

  23. With Swiss study visa for a Canton were the college is situated..can I stay at different Canton and will I have the visa for staying or traveling in all the cantons of Switzerland??

  24. I am working in Switzerland with L Permit and staying along with my dependents. My daughter is 18 yrs old and is doing schooling here. Our visa is going to expire soon and will be renewed. Would the visa of my daughter will also be renewed normally or does she have to apply for a student visa? If it is student visa, what would be the process for the student whose parents are working here?
    Thanks in advance.

  25. I want to study in Geneva but I want to live in France in either Annemasse or Annecy.
    Is this acceptable or do I have to reside in Switzerland in order to obtain a visa?

  26. Is it advisable to follow up with the embassy regarding your visa application? I submitted my requirements 8 weeks ago. Thanks!

  27. I am already studying in Switzerland, but I am not from the EU and I would like to start working. How do I go about getting a work permit, now that my 6 months have passed?

  28. Hello
    I want my GF from japan to come to Switzerland to study german in language school, what paper i need to fill out for what? Can someone help me

  29. Hi,
    I am Bilal Ahmad living in Sri Lanka. I really need help from someone who knows how to apply for my study visa. As I am just finished with my Cambridge Ordinary Level with good standard results. And I was already born and lived in Switzerland for 14 years due to my parents’ decision I am here in Sri Lanka. I think you could understand my situation how badly I wanted to come back to my born country Switzerland. So my question is right now I am finalizing my International Higher Diploma in Software Development (which is equivalent to 2 years of a bachelor’s degree). Probably the program will finish this April/May 2021. Should I wait until my certificate being issued or could I now make my way to apply for a student visa to switzerland?. Please if someone knows about this situation or has experienced it please let me know the steps I have to take over.

  30. I have been admitted to study at the University of Geneve. MEIG program. I came from a poor background, this is the second time I have been admitted to this program. Please, I’m seeking sponsors/Loans for my tuition fees of CHF22,000. For any international loan platform, crowdfunding please send the link here, please. I have just a few days to accept the offer and pay for the tuition fees.

  31. If you kindly inform me of the procedures required before departing for Switzerland. I a Bangladeshi citizen intend to study and earn respectively.

  32. We are US citizens, My son And the rest of my family lives in Switzerland and have B permit that expire in August. He graduates from high school in June. My husband and I will be moving To the Netherlands on July 1st for work reasons. My son has applied to University in Zurich (ETH), which starts in September. He is in Kantonnschule so his University acceptance will be given after getting the high school diploma. I assume his B permit will expire when we (The parents) deregister in July? Can he apply to a student visa while we are in Switzerland before we deregister?

  33. Are there any change in regulations with respect to visa post completion of study ? For example, In UK they are offering an extension of visa upto 3 years post completion of study.

  34. Hi,
    I m an Indian citizen.. I would like to study and reside in swizz.. I m planning to study Ms in ETH Zurich Federal Institute for a pharmacy course.. No academic requirements are mentioned in the college brochure.. Will i be able to get an admission there without having any trouble.. Is there any visa rejection..??

    Waiting for ur reply

  35. Hi there. Thank you for the info. I am a Clinical Psychologist from South Africa and would like to attend some lecture series at the C.G.Jung Institute in Zurich (ISAPZURICH) at the beginning of June 2021. I will only stay in Switzerland for 1 month.
    I presume I will need the C Visa.
    Please can you advise whether they are issuing such visas currently during covid? I’m presuming I will need a negative covid test too?
    Please advise. Many thanks

  36. How do I establish proof of funds for my Switzerland Student Visa?

    Hello, I am looking to pursue my PhD studies in Switzerland next year 2022 and I have just read on the University of Zurich website, that the funds have to be in an account “from a Swiss-domiciled bank (foreign bank with a branch in Switzerland OR a Swiss bank with a branch in your home country)”.

    Is this information actually correct? How do I open an account with a swiss domiciled bank if I am not resident in Switzerland already? I am also not aware of any Swiss Bank with a branch in my home country Nigeria. Kindly let me know if you know of any.
    The third option of an international bank with a swiss branch is also very funny as most of our banks here mostly have international offices in the United Kingdom or USA.

    Does this mean I cannot successfully apply for a student Visa?

    Thank you.

  37. I am interested to study in switzerland Please Suggest me a university which offers the job during Smester. Because i want to afford my All expenses And i am also want scholarship.

  38. Hi,
    Hope you are fine.

    My question is related to a discount for the Master in Swiss, so is there any discount for studying the Master in Swiss?

    Thanks in advance.

  39. Hi, Im from sri lanka, i would like to know after my grduation is it possible to get residence permit in switzerland ?

  40. I’m currently here in Switzerland studying on a long term visa (D), I’m from Australia and will be going home soon for break, do I need to go to the consulate in my city and renew it?
    My residence card is still valid until October but I will be back here studying, I would like to know if I need to do anything.

  41. Hi,

    I want to study in Switzerland. Could you help me with the following, please?
    1) WIll I get an opportunity to stay back and work as well?
    2) For how long can I stay back after completing the course and look for job opportunities?
    3) I stay outside of EU, does this mean I can only start part-time work after completing 6 months of my course?
    4) Will my partner have the option to work in Switzerland while I study there?

  42. HI, I am a no-EU student butI have EU resident perimit in EU and I am studying in EU right now. Do I need a D visa to go to Switzerland for exchange? I will stay in Switzerland for 6 month.

  43. Hello,
    Currently I am studying at university of Padova in Italy. And I got Selected for semp program(Exchange semester) this fall at Zürich University of applied sciences. I have a resident permit of Italy as student. What kind of visa I will need for 5 month stay?

  44. aslamalikum. how are you dear ?.I’m nouman from mirpur azad kashmir.I’m interested to study in switzerland.
    So,please give me some information about admission.
    and also about all process for viza I’m waiting for your reply.

  45. I am from China, but now i am studying in Maastricht, Netherlands. I’ll have exchange in Switzerland on September. Where should i apply for the visa? Thank you!

  46. Hi…my wife is planing to go Switzerland for her higher study in master’s degree. Can I travel with her as spous? and Can I do work there??

  47. Regarding the work provision, I am a completely remote digital marketing consultant for a childrens hospital. The hospital is based in the US. Would the six-month restriction still apply? I work between 20-30 hrs/week. I will be in Geneva.

  48. Hello,
    I am from Turkey and I am accepted to Fine Arts Master’s Degree at ZHdK in Zurich and my first semester starts at September 2021. I am 33 years old and am I not allowed to study there. In official website I saw that there is the limit of 30 years old ?

  49. hello
    I am a UK citizen and a semi retired doctor ( anaesthetsiologist)
    I am 54 years old.

    I want to do a 3 year acupuncture diploma course in Geneva…this consists of a sessional study and lecture format throughout the year for three years. Its a recognised institution providing accredited courses inntrad Chinese medicine.. but not a standard university but it does result in a doctor of acupuncture and a recognised qualification.

    I can prove payment and acceptance onto the course.
    Am I able to apply for a study visa which enable me to live in swizt and study for this time.
    Obviously I cannot travel back and forth to the UK for each sessional lecture because I would be paying thousands and thousands more for travel

  50. hi
    I am planning to study my masters in Switzerland,
    does the embassy get my sop (letter of motivation) directly from the university I applied for, or should I write something new tailored for the embassy?

  51. Hi,firstly, i Want to work one year after that I will enter university because I Dont have enough money for study.
    Can you recommend me what I do?

  52. I want to school in Switzerland also work over there pls how will go through it pls guide line to back me up pls

  53. Hi I’m biology student in college of united state Washington I’m try to go to the dental school but i really wanna study in Switzerland and get some of my college class over there but I have some question
    should i Waite till my college is done and then apply for visa the or can i continue my classes in college with study visa
    is good to study for dental over there
    and which college can you get classes or get in to university for dental school

  54. hey Sir,
    I hope you all will be fine. you all work very well and everyone gets very high benefits from this site.
    I want to confirm that Student still needs to transfer financial funds for study in Switzerland if gets scholarship
    Thanks for giving such valuable platform and I will wait for your reply

  55. I’m a citizen of Pkaitsan. I wa studying in the US but now I am here continuing my studies in Switzerland. Can I travel to Schengen countries without a Schengen tourist visa (and only a swiss student visa)? I’m not a US citizen

  56. Hey. Swiss embassy has mentioned IELTS in visa requirements for PhD. Do I need IELTS score for visa or it depends upon university’s requirements?

  57. Hello,
    I’m going to apply for student visa for my 4 years old daughter.
    I’m living in Iran now.
    If the application is accepted, do parents have permission to work in Switzerland?

  58. Hi
    I have a question for you. I really wanna study, travel and work in Switzerland. So, what shoul I do?
    Now, I’m studying at university. Can I take D Visa?
    I want to stay there for a long time.

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