After receiving the acceptance letter from the Swiss university, international students have to apply for getting the proper visa and permits from the Swiss authorities to enter and stay in the country. In this article, we are going to discuss how to get a student visa in Switzerland.
Check our article about the enrollment requirements in the Swiss universities.
Types of student visa in Switzerland
Student visas are issued in similar ways to the foreign workers’ permits. This is in addition to specific advantages that facilitate the process for the EU students.
It is important to note that students from the European Union and those from the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein) do not need any visa if they plan to stay in Switzerland for less than 3 months. For a longer period, they will need to apply for a residence permit.
On the other hand, students outside these 2 groups of countries have the choice between two categories of Swiss visas:
- The first is the C visa, the short-term visa also known as the Schengen visa. This is for the educational programs and courses that last up to three months.
- The second is the D visa, the long-term visa, called the National visa. And this one is for the educational programs that last for more than three months.
All the expat students, either from the EU or other countries, whose study period will exceed the three months, have to register at the local authorities in the city he/she will stay in with 14 days of arrival to Switzerland to get a residence permit.
Process of getting a student visa in Switzerland
To get a study visa for Switzerland, here are the steps to follow:
- Get an acceptance letter from the university where you are to study.
- Book an appointment at the Swiss embassy or consulate in your home country, for your visa interview and to submit your application form and necessary documents. Do this as early as 6 months before your departure date and no later than 10 weeks before it.
- Attend your interview, then wait for the visa to be processed
- Receive your decision
- Apply for a residence permit in the 14 days following your arrival in Switzerland. You can do that at a cantonal migration office of your city of residence.
Required Documents to Get a Study Visa
- Certified copy from the passport holder information page
- Two copies of the passport information pages
- Passport has to be valid for at least 6 months after your arrival to Switzerland
- At least one empty page for the Swiss visa
Visa Application Form
- Three copies of D visa application permit B. All have to be completely filled and signed in the applicant’s signing space.
- Two copies of the acceptance letter in a Swiss university
- Four passport-size photographs with white background
- Two copies of the study fee payment receipt
- Written confirmation indicating that the applicant will leave Switzerland after finishing his/her studies
- Copy of bank statement or a letter from the bank, confirming that the student has adequate financial resources to cover the study and living costs in Switzerland.
- Two copies of previous study certificates
- C.V., including all the previous studies and jobs if any
- Handwritten motivation letter outlining the applicant’s future plan
Note: Some students may be required to show in person to get a study visa permit B.
Moreover, applicants have to prove that they have medical insurance, enough finance to cover the cost of studying and living and that they are accepted in a full-time study in one of the Swiss universities. Also, make sure to get a certified translation of all the documents in one of the three languages accepted in Switzerland, which are French, German and English.
Students from the non-EU countries have to apply to get an entry visa from the Swiss embassy or consulate in their home country.
The information of the student applying for the visa is being sent to the Swiss cantonal police to take the approval or refusal decisions. The Swiss embassy or consulate will not be able to issue the visa, except after getting the police’s permission.
Further info about the Switzerland student visa
How long does a Swiss student visa take to process?
The processing time of a student visa application for Switzerland takes between 10 and 15 days for short-term visas. On the other hand, a long-stay visa will take between 8 and 12 weeks to process. It is then better to start your application as soon as possible. At best, you should start as soon as you receive your university acceptation letter.
For how long is the Switzerland student visa valid?
Residence permits usually cover the whole study duration. But the student may need to renew it every year until the end of his/her studies, according to the student’s case. To raise your chance to get an extension, you need to provide an updated proof of financial means, as well as an evidence that you are still enrolled in your university course and haven’t dropped your studies.
How much does a Swiss student visa cost?
Visa costs may vary depending on the country you come from, but usually; there is not a big difference between countries. For a visa C, visa fee cost are CHF 88 with the possibility to pay an extra 50% above the standard price for an express processing time. Visa D will cost you the same and in addition you will need to pay for your residence permit if you plan to stay longer than 90 days. This will cost you about CHF 160.
Can I work while on a Swiss student visa?
International students can work 15 hours per week while studying, and full-time during university holidays. However, students who want to work for longer hours have to apply to get a work permit.
Check also our article about the cost of studying and living in Switzerland