If you are studying in Switzerland for longer than three months, and you aren’t from the EU / EEA, you’ll need a National Visa D. You should apply for this six months before you plan to arrive in Switzerland.
If you are an EU or EEA student, you will simply need to register within two weeks of arriving in Switzerland to obtain a residence permit.
A National Visa D process and cost will vary depending on which country you are currently living in. You may be able to complete the process online in some cases. You can check the exact steps on the Swiss government’s website.
Steps to get a student visa for Switzerland
- Accept a university offer: You may also need to pay a deposit or fee to secure your place.
- Book an appointment with a Swiss embassy or consulate: This is for your visa interview and to present your application form and documents to an official. Not all nationalities will be required to do this.
- Attend your interview: Provide the requested documents, including a visa application form.
- Receive a decision: This may take up to 12 weeks.
- Apply for a residence permit: You have 14 days after your arrival in Switzerland to register for your residence permit at a cantonal migration office. Your permit may take some weeks to be created, so you might be provided with a temporary document.
Student dependents with a National Visa D
Any spouse or dependent children you have may be able to join you in Switzerland under family reunification. Family members can also work.
As a student, you will have to show that you can financially support your family in addition to you, and have ample accommodation for them.
Switzerland student visa requirements
At various points throughout the student visa and residence permit process, Swiss immigration may ask for some of the following documents:
- Valid passport
- Confirmation of enrollment at a recognized Swiss educational institution
- Proof of finances and the ability to support yourself while in Switzerland
- Proof of healthcare insurance
- Motivation letter outlining why you want to come to Switzerland to study and how this will be beneficial to your career
- Copies of previous educational certificates and diplomas
- A signed letter confirming that you will leave Switzerland at the end of the course
Swiss student visa processing time
It can take between 8 and 12 weeks to process your visa, so it's well worth starting your application as soon as possible.
Try to start at least three months before you need to travel, but ideally, you should start your application as soon as you receive your offer from a Swiss university.
Working whilst studying in Switzerland
Studying in Switzerland as an international student also means you can work up to 15 hours a week part-time during term time and full-time in university holidays — this is providing you have been in Switzerland for more than six months.
If you are working towards a PhD in Switzerland you can also work part-time up to 15 hours but you don’t need to have been in Switzerland for six months to start.
Employers need to organize a student visa work permit for you, and you need to continue being a full-time student and make sufficient progress on your program.
What to do if your Switzerland visa is rejected
If your Swiss student visa has been rejected because your application was incomplete, the best course of action is to try again making sure you provide all the information required. Visa application fees are non-refundable, so it's worth checking you have supplied everything before you send it off.
If your visa gets refused but you don't agree with the decision, you can make an appeal within 30 days of receiving the outcome. You must reply in writing, explaining why it is that your visa shouldn’t have been refused, with proof.