Visas and permits to study in Switzerland

Certain nationalities will require a visa to enter Switzerland. If you’re from outside of the EU/EFTA , you will need to apply for a multiple entry long stay visa (Visa D) from your local Swiss embassy. You must allow at least three months for your visa to process, so make sure you apply with plenty of time.

You cannot come to Switzerland on a three-month tourist visa and change it to a student residence permit after you have arrived in Switzerland. Thus, even if you are exempt from needing an entry visa, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia or Singapore nationals, you will still need to apply for a residence permit before you arrive if you plan to stay longer than 90 days.

Cantonal authorities: Each canton has its own cantonal immigration and labour market authorities that issue permits and will be able to provide detailed information on the application procedures. Find the contact details of your specific Swiss canton for information.

Applying for a Swiss visa

You’ll need to apply for a visa through the Swiss Embassy or consulate in your home country. You’ll need to complete an application form from IEG and submit supporting documentation, in French, German or English, so you may need to translate your documents.

For a long-term D visas, documents will include:

  • Application for long term-stay visa, visa D 

  • Motivation letter outlining why you want to come to Switzerland to study and how this will be beneficial to your career. Motivation letter indicating the interest of the applicant in studying in Switzerland 

  • Original written confirmation of the sponsor (foundation, parents, school etc.) that the cost will be covered and solvency proof 
(bank statement account showing the movements for the last three months or bank letter confirming the balance of the ac

  • Proof of healthcare insurance, which includes cover for accidents. 

  • Confirmation of enrolment at a recognised Swiss educational institution. 

  • Confirmation of payment of tuition and other fees 

  • Curriculum Vitae in English, French, Italian or German 

  • Previous diplomas, school certificates and study plan with certified translation into English, French, Italian or German. 

  • 4 identical, recent passport photographs, meeting Schengen requirements 

  • Original Passport must be valid at least three months after leaving Switzerland and contain at least two empty pages 

  • A short letter declaring : «I shall leave Switzerland in the term of the planned studies», with date and signature 

  • Confirmation/Matriculation letter from the school or university with indication of the language of study, and the number of 
school courses per week 

  • Payment of visa fee and postage in cash 

Residence permit

Upon arrival in Switzerland, within 14 days of entering the country, a residence permit delivered by the Aliens Police of the Canton of establishment is also required.

The new incomer must therefore present the following documents:

  • A valid passport with the visa

  • Confirmation of acceptance from the host school/university
  • A guarantee of sufficient means to support oneself during the period of study
  • Proof of a permanent address in Switzerland 

After being matriculated to the school/university the first semester must be paid.

This is the only way to be definitively subscribed; the postage stamp of the Post Office indicates the registration. The student needs to present himself a second time to the Aliens Police with the confirmation of matriculation to the school/university and the proof of payment of the semester fees in order to prove the definitive subscription to the school/university. 
This residence permit must be renewed each year. In case of any changes in the study programme the student must inform the Swiss Authorities as soon as possible. It is not possible to begin studying with a tourist visa. 

Family members of students coming to Switzerland 

Your family members cannot come with you or join you while you are a student in Switzerland. This is because students are issued with a temporary residence permit (eg. permit B) and only foreigners holding a settlement permit C can bring their families to join them. However, there are some exceptions: those holding Confederation grants, doctoral students, visiting professors, post-docs and other academics. 

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