Unemployed foreigner: will your permit be renewed?

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

Did you arrive in Switzerland to work for an employer? This article will not answer questions of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, to whom very specific rules are applied.


The first information to clarify is your nationality. Indeed, different rules apply depending on it.


Whether you are a European Union national (including European Free Trade Association nationals) or a non-European national (under certain very restrictive conditions), you will obtain a permit to perform your gainful activity. The duration of the permit depends on the duration of the employment contract.


Please, note that cases of unemployed non-Europeans require special attention.


If you lose your job and have made contributions for more than 12 months in Switzerland, you are entitled to unemployment benefits. Please, note that contributions made in other EU/EFTA countries are taken into account provided that your last job was in Switzerland. Specific provisions apply to German nationals.


However, be aware of the type of permit (especially, the L permit), the end of its validity and especially the end of unemployment benefits.


There is certainly no problem with being registered in the Regional Employment Office (REO) or receiving unemployment benefits, as these are not considered to be part of social assistance. But be careful if you have not been able to find a new job after your unemployment benefit has expired. You might encounter problems when renewing your permit if you cannot claim a right (for example, if your spouse works in Switzerland and his or her salary covers the family's financial needs, you acquire the right to stay “droit de demeurer”, etc.).


If despite everything, you want to stay in Switzerland but do not have the financial means, you can, in theory, request social assistance (right enshrined in the Swiss Constitution). However, a long-term dependence on social assistance will prevent you from renewing your permit.


Therefore, do not wait for your unemployment benefits to end or for your permit to expire (especially for EU/EFTA L permits and non-EU/EFTA permits). Please, contact me. I will be happy to guide and help you in order to avoid any stress related to the loss of your permit and administrative procedures.


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