Steps to follow for a residence permit

If you are coming to live in a Vaud commune for work, to join your family or because you are studying there, here are the different procedures and steps to follow in order to request a residence permit.

Working, studying, joining a family member

Working in switzerland

EU and EFTA Europeans

Europeans, nationals of an EU or EFTA state, benefit from the free movement of persons with Switzerland. They can come and look for work for 6 months in Switzerland without a visa and can settle in Switzerland if they have sufficient resources and do not have recourse to social assistance.

Third-country nationals

It is more difficult for nationals who do not benefit from the free movement of persons to come and work in Switzerland. The employer who wants to hire them must demonstrate to the Employment Service (SDE) that they have not found anyone either in Switzerland (among Swiss or foreign residents) , nor in Europe (among nationals of EU or EFTA states) to take up the position. Nationals of a third country likely to come and work in Switzerland must therefore have rare and high-level professional qualifications.

In addition, the number of permits allocated to these non-EU and EFTA nationals is limited by a quota system. Each canton is allocated a limited number of available permits each year..

Joining a family member

Family reunification allows the spouse and minor children to accompany or join a Swiss or foreign person who has a residence permit in Switzerland.

EU and EFTA Europeans

The notion of family reunification is extended to children over the age of 18 up to 21 and even older if they are still dependent.

Third-country nationals

A minimum level of knowledge of French is required for adult nationals of third countries who apply for a residence permit to accompany or join in Switzerland a husband or wife, or a registered partner who is also a third-country national.

In the canton of Vaud, if the minimum level of French is not acquired, you have one year to satisfy this linguistic requirement. For more information, see the box Language levels required by the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration (FNIA) and the Federal Act on Swiss Citizenship (SCA) on pages 10-11.

More infromation THE LANGUAGE LEVELS REQUIRED BY The Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration (FNIA)

Deadlines for family reunifications (children)

A third-country national with a residence permit has 5 years to bring their spouse or children from the date of marriage, recognition of filiation or obtaining the residence permit.


As soon as the children are 12 years old, the deadline for bringing them in automatically becomes only one year.


These deadlines do not apply to people who join an EU or EFTA national in Switzerland.

Studying in switzerland

EU and EFTA Europeans

For Europeans who are nationals of the EU or EFTA state, there are no special requirements to join a training establishment in Switzerland. They must nevertheless, like third-country nationals, be able to support themselves financially.

Third-country nationals

Third-country nationals must show that their objective of studying in Switzerland is part of a coherent educational project. The residence permit is temporary and only valid for the duration of the studies.

Who should I contact?

EU and EFTA Europeans

Contact the municipality of residence in Switzerland (Contrôle des habitants).

Other nationals

Contact the Swiss representation (embassy or consulate) located in your country of residence.

In both cases, the file will be sent to the Service de la Population of the canton of Vaud, which will process the application.

Documents to be provided for the filing of an application