A “B” permit gives a five year residency permit and is normally granted to EU citizens. It is granted to people who demonstrate that they have a work contract lasting at least 5 years, and is thereafter extended if the foreigner fulfils the necessary criteria. The first extension can be limited to a year if the resident is unemployed during at least twelve consecutive months.

Citizens of EU / EEA countries who are not working are also entitled to a B permit if they can demonstrate that they have sufficient financial means.

An “L” permit is generally granted for shorter stays of up to a year, and specifically for fixed term contracts of at least three months and up to a year. EU / EEA citizens coming to Switzerland to look for work are also given an “L” permit, and this permit gives no right to social benefits.

For non EU / EEA citizens only workers with specific qualifications are given work permits, and the number of permits granted is severely restricted. The employer needs to demonstrate that they have not been able to find Swiss or EU / EEA citizens to undertake the job.